Beyond Sides

I find this excerpt from the Tenth Insight, published in ’96, particularly relevant: “...each side was thinking the other to be a conspiracy of evil...”

It’s time to put forth our best effort to refrain from the crutch of categorizing ourselves into sides, pods, polarities, dualities, tribes and dehumanizing the “other.”

“Finding our people” is no doubt, useful and serves a purpose.

It feels good to be validated and supported.

And, as much as I will include myself 100% in this susceptibility, if we are going to get anywhere—as a species, as a planet, as societies, it’s certainly not going to be through “one side” “winning.”

It’s not going to be through demonizing blue, or red, imposing gross generalizations and assumptions, or through automatically or conveniently calling anyone who questions mainstream narratives a conspiracy theorist.

It's time to recognize that words are incredibly limiting.

We must have the courage to move beyond words, categories and constructs.

The terrifying unknown territory devoid of labels, stereotypes, assumptions and convenient categorizations is where we will find our evolution.

If we are going to get anywhere, it is not going to be through "woke" v. "asleep." ...through "pro or anti vaxx"... though "non-, anti-, Q, conspiracy, left, right.

It’s not going to be through categorizing all mask-wearers as “living in fear/sheep” or non-mask-wearers as “selfish/idiotic"). (Data can often be explained away to align with many angles of confirmation bias.)

It’s going to be (and I say this owning my own biases) through genuine striving to see the contributions of those we disagree with—even—and especially—when the only contribution we can see through our limited perception is a trigger for our own emotional growth.

Though we are all subject to using words to communicate, we must look beyond words. We must read between words.

Beyond democrats and republicans, conservative and liberal.

It's time to move beyond "other."

It's not enough to say "this is all we have. We have to work with it."

It's time to move beyond our rhetoric and at least start thinking about how we can do that.

The issues and contexts surrounding us are messy.

This planet is resilient and miraculous, and simultaneously highly complex and layered.

People are messy.

Politics are messy.

It is highly unlikely that any one narrative contains all “truth” or “facts.”

Most likely, there are threads of truth or accuracy in multiple narratives.

We are all subject to echo chambers, to some degree. Our power lies in awareness.

And with that—I will readily own my own position and opinion.

For example: I strongly disagree with the mainstream medical narrative surrounding the etiology of respiratory illness we’ve been experiencing, having read a considerable amount of literature from multiple perspectives, triple board certified physicians and health professionals. To me, the terrain theory—now often referred to as component of “Q” or a component of conspiracy theories—is logically supported by considerable evidence unfortunately dismissed as misinformation—and thus holds more scientific credibility to me than the theory of viral illness that has informed curriculums of well-intending, largly-pharma-funded medical universities; and that allopathic medicine has functioned from for the past century+. This is not to demonize or throw out all of mainstream medicine—it has saved my life, and family member’s lives.

For example: Though I strongly disagree with much of the theoretical foundations informing; and the validity, reliability & conclusions drawn by many empirical studies used to justify the efficacy, necessity and safety of injectable pharmaceutical prophylactics—I believe nearly everyone in their respective professions, is doing and intending the very best they know how—and have been taught to know.

I share this to illustrate my point: thinking one thing does not automatically categorize all aspects of a person’s thought, character, reasoning, or opinion.

I think “alternatively” on health. This does not automatically determine all my politics, views or stances.

It is time for us to relinquish assumptions and seek learning.

It is imperative we at least put forth effort to refrain from the convenience of labels and instead be willing to have the courage to do the work in questioning more deeply –ourselves and the world around us—out of curiosity.

What strikes me as fascinating is that whenever “alternative” information is presented, that counters mainstream narrative, even on the basis of logic and science, it is very often labeled “conspiracy,” “non-science” or dismissed by fact-checkers… and conveniently associated with misinformation. Without actually being given the chance to be considered.

It is too often, conveniently lumped with a political side, agenda, or labeled as New Age narcissistic—it is too often labeled as merely misinformation serving the alleged agenda of 'those who dare be inconvenienced by the current mandates and protocol.'

We are all threatened, to some degree, by information that conflicts our own views, values, and belief systems about the world.

But can we trust ourselves to decide for ourselves?

This is not to discredit “professionals,” but to realize the importance of considering and employing critical thought upon the information we digest and integrate into our lives and behaviors—no matter what “side” or “party” it comes from. The importance of evaluating stakeholder pressures, interests, and the gray scale of accuracy often overlooked in our desire to conveniently subscribe to simplicity and black-white thinking.

This also doesn’t mean relinquishing our own views and beliefs. It means being curious to understand other perspectives while we hold confidence in our opinion.

For example, I propose that it may also be inconvenient to consider that there is scientifically credible information that is being widely dismissed.

I propose it may equally be difficult to consider that a complete paradigm shift towards how we understand disease (especially chronic and viral illness) may be needed in order to create lasting health… especially in a context in which healthcare costs and chronic illness clearly keep rising despite billions / year being poured into the industry.

And yet, this is not about us demonizing any narrative, but about questioning what has continually failed to effect more change and improve let alone sustain the health of our species (Yes, we’ve made incredible advances in some ways and have incredible technology, but the US is ranked somewhere b/w 35-40 in healthcare quality and outcomes of developed nations, chronic illness rises meanwhile expenditures rise).

I don’t believe anyone is intentionally brewing a conspiracy to destroy.

The health issues we are facing are embedded within a complex network of theoretical understanding, complex data, correlation and causation (and I believe in many cases mistaking correlation for causation), stakeholder pressures, stakeholder interests, emotional biases and more.

Our behaviors are informed by our emotional biases and our contextualized lenses of the world—a culmination of what we’ve been taught, what we’ve made sense of, and the influences of our fears, our desires (and let’s face it, we all have moments of “living in fear;” it’s called being human).

I don’t find it particularly realistic to imagine any party plotting a grand plan to intentionally “take over.” I do believe, however, that the pressures individuals face as a result of being in public spotlights, positions of power and influence, impact actions that may be misaligned with one’s individual ethics or with what is otherwise in the best interest of the public.

Equally, I believe that when we’re faced with cognitive dissonance it is easy to rationalize our actions rather than confront the uncomfortable. I also believe fear clouds rational thought. Compound this on societal and mass-industry scales and you have unintentional corruption and complex, messy socio-economic, socio-political situations.

We need to seek to understand. And by understand I do not mean automatically relinquish our own beliefs and values.

By understand, I mean, be willing to hear and inquire.

Be willing to understand that there are FAR more than two sides.

Questioning on the basis of scientific inquiry, curiosity, and a hunger for the betterment of humanity, ought not to be immediately stamped with the label of conspiracy or non-science. This is a shallow, lazy approach to arriving at accurate explanations.

Likewise, I will own the use of my own label of “mainstream narrative,” understanding that as much as I disagree with much of “it,” and am pained by the way the term ‘science’ is being diluted; I too, am creating a generalization.

And, threads of accuracy and useful information are contained in a variety of perspectives—not one, not two. But many.

When we dig deep, to what we all fear, what we all desire, (at least I speak from anecdotal evidence), we often have more in common than different. The paths to getting there are usually what differ. Not that the path doesn’t matter—but if we focus primarily on the difference, instead of the fears and desires and hopes we have in common—if we focus on dehumanizing and stereotyping the “other” instead of understanding—we exacerbate fear, disharmony and illness.

Life is a holistic interaction or organisms living in this earth. Not isolation of sides or pods.

Categories are concepts created by humans.

Far more difficult than labeling and categorizing narratives is realizing that there are billions of individual stories and narratives walking this planet, each creating and conveniently imposing stories on one another to make the misunderstood feel more validating and comfortable—but each with an individualized perception of the world to contribute to our holistic understanding.

Let’s interact. Let’s do the hard work of questioning.

Let’s get to know one another.

And, I will add, that taking a ‘peaceful,’ diplomatic path does not have to mean letting one’s values or beliefs be blown by the wind. Taking a stand and being a ‘peacemaker’ can and must co-exist. The most impactful stance-takers I’ve experienced and been impacted by live unsilenced, without the need to persuade.

I spent much of my life thinking that peacemaking meant silence or complete neutrality.

I’ve come to believe that if we don’t hold any ground beneath our feet there will be no islands to stabilize waves of chaos.

And, there is a difference between being opinionated and dehumanizing the ‘other.’

It is time to practice, attempt, try, be courageous enough to-- stand confidently in what we believe while simultaneously being curious about others’ experiences and perspectives.

It is time to not censor our voices.

It is time to practice compassion and passion.

Let us “do our part” by gathering a variety of data and thinking critically.

It is time to speak our own beliefs with confidence without ostracizing others as "other."

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