Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Filters

I find the female form attractive. It’s not a conscious decision. It is unconscious and genetic. It’s who I am.

Recently, I took a test of my “thinking” style and the results surprised me. In the past I’ve straddled classifications and boundaries – scientific, nature, relationships. This time the test results identified me as a “nature” thinker without other classifications. That’s who I have become.

As I age, am I narrowing in my thinking and my perception of the world? Is it because this is where I put my unconscious effort or is this narrowing genetic like sexual orientation?

I experience the world through genetic and learned filters and try to be aware of my filters but am not always successfull. For example, about twelve years ago I was glancing through a Backpacker Magazine while sitting next to a friend who does not hike. As I flipped a page he said “That’s a nice car”. His statement removed my filters. For the first time I realized the magazine includes full page adds for SUVs. They had been there all along but I had never consciously noticed them. For me, cars are a necessary evil and are blocked by well developed filters.

Julie and I were with another couple who I sometimes find stressful. She says things that lead me to believe that she hates gays and lesbians, is more materialistic than I am, worships Rush Limbaugh, despises non-Republicans, rejects social programs and is becoming more and more religious. To be truthful, often her attitudes irritate the hell out of me.

We were discussing a trip to Mexico and she didn’t want to go. She had talked to people who told her about the danger – the kidnappings, assaults, robberies and killings of Americans – none of which I’ve read. She had been advised not to drive Arizona roads near the border and if she found herself in that area to be sure and keep her doors locked. Later, we were walking some colorful, lively and interesting city streets. I wanted to browse through a “hippy” store containing posters of Janis Joplin and other musicians, bumper stickers cynical of the American government, outlandish clothing and patches of marijuana leaves. As we walked, joked and laughed I noticed she had shut down, pulled her arms in close and was exhibiting symptoms of irrational fear. Her filters were functioning! It’s who she is.

For the first time, I think I saw her more clearly and felt compassion for her. She’s afraid.

Here’s the problem. How can I remove my filters – or replace them with more appropriate filters – and see other people as mirror images of myself? For example, I perceive nature as wonderful, peaceful, awe inspiring, void of evil, and filled with the things that enrich life whereas corporations, religions and politicians merit suspicion. She perceives much of the world through different filters of fear and looks to religion and some politicians to protect her. We’re the same except for our perspective.

The skill that I’m trying to develop and refine is the ability to manage my anger toward many of her attitudes and values – such as her dislike of gays and lesbians, non-Republicans, etc -- without directing that anger toward her. I’m trying to find ways to remove my filters and see the world as she does. I think and hope that doing this will enable me to find ways to bridge the chasm that separates us. We are who we are but surely – somehow, some way – we can help one another to age gracefully without becoming more narrow, more selective in perception and less open to our world.

I find the female form attractive. That’s genetic. I find many people’s attitudes and values irritating. That’s learned and perhaps partially genetic. I have a desire to respect and relate to those with whom I disagree and who think differently than I do. That’s a choice.

(Julie and I worked 10 hour days last week and took Friday off since Monday was a work holiday. Hopefully, I’m back to posting regularly and trying to catch up on reading your posts. If you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s because I’m over-committed at the moment. Also, I hope to put more thought into my posts rather than writing quick posts, like this one, off the top of my head.)

11 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I have a similar problem -- getting irritated with angry and opinionated conservatives. It tends to make me just as angry and contrarily opionated.

To say that I find the female form attractive is to put it mildly. ;)

1/18/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Thom said...

Do you really want to see things as your friend does, or do you want to understand why she sees things the way she does?

1/18/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger I_Wonder said...

Thom, you've made a good distinction. I definitely don't and never will agree with her opinions. I want to find a way to understand and communicate with her. Seeing her as a villian is not constructive. Seeing her as a victim may be constructive. Right or wrong, I am beginning to see her as a victim of political rhetoric, religious dogma, coporate marketing and media hype. She's afraid and blind but, I'm also afraid and blind but to different things. Trying to understand why she reacts as she does may help me to understand myself better.

1/18/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

A most thought provoking offering, my friend.

I have a number of acquaintences that are conservative, right-wing, christian, Republicans - or close enough to them in attitude. That many of them are loving, caring, very intelligent, individuals bothers me no end.

As a biker, a former patch holder in two different clubs, I have a number of acquaintences - and a couple of friends - that are incredibly racist. One has a white power tatt covering his entire back. The times he has had to have surgery he has had friends donate blood to insure he doesn't receive any tainted "nigger" blood.

I despise their philosophy. Yet they treat me well and would stand up for me. A bit of a conundrum.

Usually I try to ignore what I despise and focus on what I like. Having a dialogue with them is a waste of time - though I sometimes still tilt that windmill.

By the same token they are forgiving of my being a socialistic, libertarian, anachist.

Maybe there is some parity there. I don't know.

Sorry for such a long comment.

1/18/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger jo_jo said...

One always needs a foil to push against in order to grow. You are hers, and she is yours!

1/18/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger The Michael said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/18/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger The Michael said...

I finally had to give up and understand that this strange disconnect from reality that my conservative acquantances suffer from seems to come from a lack of education and ability to see beyond their own immediate concerns. Critical thinking skills seem to be in short supply these days, and empathy is an endangered concept altogether. Even so-called "progressives" will be all for providing social services for the mentaly ill, then scream bloody murder when a clinic shows up within five miles of their gated communties. I give up. We're going down.

1/18/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Different points of view is what makes the world go round.. might be wonderful if we all agreed..or might be quite dull.

1/18/2006 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gaye said...

You know, I believe what I believe... it doesn't matter to me what anyone else believes. The people I seem to be drawn to have very different opinions than me--I find that interesting. OH! and the male form is pretty dang attractive too!!!!

1/18/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I agree with Matt.

1/19/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Compassion opens more doors between people than we may ever be able to understand completely. It's taken me a long time to come to the point of grasping that people who hurt others (whether by word or action or attitude, whether purposefully or unintentionally and unknowingly) have almost always been hurt and often are bound so tightly by something within themselves that they are hurting still.

Knowing this has made life harder in some respects, since now I can't be angry with people but instead hurt for/with them. Or rather, I have a choice of which to do. But, really, what kind of a choice is it? How can I, in all good conscience, choose anger over compassion? Not and be honest, be authentic, at least.

1/19/2006 10:17:00 PM  

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