Certainty and changing our mind

I have been sitting in this question for the last few days.

“What ideas, beliefs and world views do I have certainty about?” 

Certainty! As in no doubt? None at all?

I have been thinking about the polarised world we live in. About the information overload. The algorithms that have seized our minds without our knowing, directing our minds down rabbit holes against our conscious awareness. 

Until the big tech companies, that thrive from colonising our minds and emotions, are scattered to the winds, we must set up practices to prevent our own ability to be hijacked unawares. 

This may be more important to the healthy future of humanity than almost anything else. Unless we become highly capable of discernment and sense-making, unless we apply a rigorous filter to the media that arrives into our mind and body, there is no future for Earth and all her creatures. 

The hijacking of our senses and discernment by nefarious actors, all with private agendas that care naught about their media victims, is one of the greatest existential threats we have.

Given the landscape is not likely to be changed any time soon, although Europe is considering significant change (see The People’s Declaration below), we must become the arbiters of our own media diet.

We must practice a rigorous form of discernment and self-awareness if we want a world with a future. 

Our media has become a poison that operates at such a low level of violation that we do not feel the changes as it infects our body, mind, being.

In Australia 70% of our media is controlled by one company. The Murdoch Press. There is no secret that Rupert Murdoch and his dynasty have vested interests in certain types of politics. Those of the neoliberal kind. Small government. The opportunity for the wealthy to avoid tax and citizen responsibility. Care-less-ness about any future where Earth and her creatures thrive. 

How Australia allowed media ownership to accumulate in the hands of one company is a violation of the fourth estate. Democracy is based on many voices. 

Just today I noticed that my Twitter feed had changed. Now I was being offered tweets that I may be interested in. If I like them, the algorithm goes into overdrive. All I will see is more of the same. Until my whole worldview is constantly reinforced by the siloed news feed I will find myself in.

Brakes on! We have to seize back control of our minds. 

Get off the platforms that care only about our attention, too smart an AI for even the very smartest of us. 

And create a discipline for our own discernment.

It might go like this.

*What am I absolutely certain of? 

*Why am I certain of this? 

*Have I looked at the opposing side’s information with the mind of an investigator, doing my best to untangle my bias?

*What are my bias’s? Why do I have these? Are they mine, or a default bias based on being part of an in-group? 

*How committed am I to this belief or idea? Will I fight for it? If so why? What is at stake for me?

*What if I am wrong?

*If I am reading an article, who wrote it? What is their bias? How did they research this? 

*If I am looking at numbers, graphs, statistics…let me also look at statistics from an opposing view. Graphs, numbers and statistics all present a powerful but entirely partial and manipulated story. Rarely do we get the whole truth.

*What if I am wrong and the belief I hold is a lie? How might this affect my identity? My friend’s group? My cultivated image online and offline? 

*What do I gain by having this idea or belief? Does it fill me with righteous indignation? Do I like the taste and feel of that righteous indignation?

*How do I get other perspectives on this? Am I honestly open to other perspectives?

To consider these questions and others like them is hard work. Really hard work. 

Perhaps we might choose one of our anchor beliefs and start with that. The belief or idea that gets us riled up the most. The one that we fight for. 

If this feels too threatening to our identity then we might choose a smaller belief. 

I have written about my own journey of changing my mind around vaccination. While I was not a hard-core anti-vaxer, I have felt we over vaccinate and that this interfered with our natural immunity. I definitely would like all public and private profits taken out of any public health initiative, as profit creates its own natural bias. 

Today I feel differently about vaccination than I did 8 weeks ago. I was prepared to rigorously challenge my own closely held beliefs and stories. I was able to look at other perspectives. I was OK with changing my mind.

Are you OK with changing your mind? Or is the impulsive cry…NEVER! Not about this! If that is your response, it is likely the area to explore the most with an open mind. (I know this well, after years of righteous indignation and my love of being right! Whatever right is?)

What are you certain of and why?

I am certain of the following;

I love my daughter and she loves me.

I love my partner Tony and he loves me.

Health is a daily investment – mind, body, being, spirit. 

Every human, every creature, has intrinsic value.

The human mind, working together synergistically, is capable of incredible things.

One person can make a difference.

I will die.

Laughter is an antidote to so many ills. 

Kindness – to self, to others, to our future – is syntropic. It keeps giving.

Integrity – to be our word, to hold our shape – is a daily, moment-by-moment practice.

Learning new things is where we meet the animating life force. 

To be in service to something far greater than our individual selves is the ultimate freedom.

Treating our fellows with respect, dignity and compassion is the way I choose to live.

Anger can be a powerful force to animate action yet the moment we personalise it we make it a force of separation. 

If I drop a glass of water it will fall to the ground. 

I could go on…

All of these certainties are based on my own lived experience. Everything else, up for debate. 

The moment we become certain about something we squeeze out other possibilities. If we choose to be certain about entropic things, then our world becomes very small indeed. 

It we choose certainty about syntropic things…like love, care, compassion, grace, reverence, learning, kindness, laughter, respect, dignity, thoughtfulness, consideration… we become expansive.

Our choice. 

Let us take back control of our emotions, mind, body, being. The daily practice of discernment and sense-making is as essential as moving our bodies, eating nutritious food, surrounding ourselves with people who inspire and love us, and thinking about the more beautiful future we know is possible. 

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