EVERY SEPARATION IS A LINK
Welcoming Other-ness As An Opportunity
Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us . . . Every separation is a link.
— Simone Weil
SO, THERE we have it. Our sensory systems, our brains, our physiology – even our very everyday reality – it’s all pieced together out of an eclectic mix of what we sense, what we perceive, and deduce. Our senses send signals to our brains, which register some of them, and our minds tell us what is going on. Based on what we’ve observed ourselves or been told by others, we make a whole lot of assumptions about what’s happening – past, present, future – what we can expect to happen, and why it should matter to us. And we act on that information, for better or for worse. On a good day, we may save someone’s life. If we get it wrong, we can do the opposite.
Our whole sensation-perception process is inherently vulnerable. It’s riddled with physical, temporal, and conceptual gaps – a veritable block of existential Swiss-cheese. We may think we’re paying attention. We may think we’re picking up on all the clues. We may believe we’re basing our beliefs and actions on all the available evidence. But no matter how convinced we may be of our rightness, there’s literally no way to tell if we’re actually 100% correct, because it’s impossible for us to have all the information we need for that level of confidence. And asking others us to confirm or debunk our ideas and values – especially others who share our viewpoints – is no guarantee of anything, because they’re just as limited as we are.
From Pretense to Potential
Now, what can we possibly do with this information?
As it turns out, a lot.