I’ve been thinking about bubbles lately. Sometimes I can be a bit of a bubble brain but this is different, I hope. Over the last few days I’ve reflected on the realities we all exist inside of, the world we live in and mistake for how things are, everywhere.
“This world’s a bubble.” Augustine of Hippo
I once worked with someone who claimed “to be able to see the whole board.” He was convinced he could envision the whole of the place we worked, everyone’s responsibilities, different departments, personalities and everything that encompassed what we did, how we did it and why. Like a Grand-Master of chess he could see all the pieces and how they fit together. There was no doubt in his mind. The problem was many of those who worked with him didn’t see it that way and could produce plenteous evidence to the contrary.
It’s not uncommon to know someone who lives in a bubble, convinced the way they see the world is the way it is or at least, should be. It is uncommon to find someone who accepts we all live in a bubble, none are exempt, and endeavours to stretch the boundaries of their world, increase their bubble’s size.
We are, every one of us, conditioned with cultural and familial paradigms, raised certain ways, with particular values. As long as we’re not challenged to examine our views, hold them up to the light, see if they can withstand scrutiny, life as we know it, our bubble, stays small.
However, when someone tests the elasticity of our bubble things get more complicated. Often I, and other employees, would “poke” the bubble of the above mentioned staff member. It never went well. As I wrote about in “POP Goes the Ego“, most times it wasn’t worth the splatter.
“It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”
This runs counter to our society of yelling at and bullying others until they embrace our worldview or surrender to the refusal to allow for different viewpoints. People are labeled idiots, non believers, evil, if they fail whichever litmus test is deemed most important.
The size of our bubble is directly related to the amount of people we have in our lives who disagree with us, don’t see reality the way we do. Folks who will challenge long-held beliefs, assumptions and judgements.
To have our bubble stretched is frightening for most. Some worry it will pop with nothing to frame their existence. But those who dare to take the risk discover that many of the beliefs they hold dear are strengthened while the superfluous dogma gets discarded. If the beliefs and values we embrace are true they can withstand examination and we come out better for it on the other side.
“Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
Sadly, however, most assume they don’t live in a bubble. Life is the way they see it and if everyone would acquiesce the world would be righted.
To have the courage to allow others into our lives who think and live differently than us allows us to grow in wisdom and love.
“Be careful what you hate it might be someone you love.”