October 29, 2008

I know... it's been a while

I've been fantastically sick the last week or so. Wildly raging sore throat, a head about to explode with sinus pressure, and now, added to it all, i have lost my ability to talk for the last two and a half days. So I've been feeling kind of crummy and just left the computer alone for the most part (which should be an indicator that I'm under the weather!)

Anywho. I had yet another one of those email exchanges with my mom in which she tries to convince me to switch my vote and I try to defend to her my own choices and I got to thinking in the midst of it, how can we live in the same world and yet think that two different things are going to be better for us? How can we be faced with the same reality and yet make such radically different choices?

Today I ran across this article by David Brooks: The Behavioral Revolution It is his thoughts on the financial situation and the four tasks of decision making:
1) perception
2) brainstorm possiblities
3) figure out which is in your best interest
4) act

Now, he talks about how we have focused on number 3 - figuring out what is in our best interest, and while I think in general that is what is in the best interest of the individual, I think that it could also be, what is in the best interest of the business, of the state, of the nation.

Because of Alan Greenspan's deduction that #3 is what failed, (see article for more about financial world), Brooks thinks we need to go all the way back to #1. Perception.

Here is where I finally figured out why my mom and I are having such a hard time right now. She can't believe the choices I would make because she fundamentally believes that they are in the worst interest of our country. And I on the other hand think that her choice is in the worst interest of our country. And so we are arguing about #3 - the best possible course, when we need to go back and look at perception.

I realized this finally, although I had glimpses that something was off skew, reading Brooks' column. But what first tipped me off was listening to the video that she sent me and then looking at the one that I sent her. She sent me: this video by Fred Thompson and I sent back the Colin Powell endorsement

We have such fundamentally different pictures, or perceptions, of the world right now, as it is, different perceptions of reality, that of couse we are making different choices. My question is - 1) can we ever reconcile or come to understand one another's different realities? 2) do we want to? 3) if we live in different worlds, how are we ever going to understand one another?

I guess that is the postmodern dilemma. And ironically, being self-aware about postmodernism helps me to understand that my reality is only a piece of the whole, that everything I percieve is shaped and colored by what I have been able to experience.

This seems very strange, but I was out yesterday getting a prescription filled at Target. And I realized I hadn't eaten lunch yet and also wanted something to sip on. So I stopped at the Target deli and picked up some sushi and a soy chai latte while I was waiting for my perscrption to be filled. It struck me: my parents would never make that choice. My brothers would never make that choice. But I have had experiences in the world that have led me to see sushi as comfort food.

To them, I may just be a latte sipping, tree hugging, sushi-eating liberal. But you know what. That is who I am. That is what my experiences have led me to become. And my experiences aren't better than theirs, they are simply different.

How do we explain ourselves though? How do we explain differences in experience without sounding elitist? How do we share our lives without being offensive? I guess fundamentally, you have to start with sharing - and not in the heat of a political season, but after the waters have cooled, I need to take my mom out for sushi and tell her about my friends in Nashville.

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