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An Antidote to the Poison in our National Narrative?

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There is a theory in the social sciences that opens up a whole new paradigm for humanity. It's a theory that's been around for a while but hasn't caught on in popular culture. And even though it has the capacity to change the whole of human discourse from enmity to cooperation it still fails to take hold and do its magic.

It was given to us by "Alfred Korzybski, a Polish-American independent scholar who developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of semantics. He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain's responses to reality. His best-known dictum is "The map is not the territory" [1] .

I have found there are at least two steps to applying this theory. The first is personal. The second is too but it regards other people. Both are equally difficult. Both will bring confusion and discord before relief. But once they are taken there is no going back.

The first step is two-fold. First, we must understand what Korzybski meant when he said, "the map is not the territory." The second phase is much more difficult. We must realize it in our bodies. To do this we must acknowledge and own that the world you think you observe is not the actual world, but your representation of it. In other words, your processes, your ways of functioning, are not you and are not the world. They are learned over a lifetime of unexamined experiences, both conscious and unconscious.

Your point of view comes from your interpretations of incomplete sensory perceptions, is formed by past experiences, shaped by your own unique biological characteristics, and heavily influenced by your expectations and preferences, all neatly bundled up in the house of being called language.

Or in simpler terms, Gorilla-Glued together by what you already believe as though it would disintegrate if some little piece of new data didn't fit.

As difficult at this first step is to achieve, the second is even tougher. We must then apply this idea to every other human being we meet. Not just our friends and family. Not just those we love and care about. Not just those who agree with us. But every human being on the planet.

Because every other human being on the planet is a unique individual with a fully complete, yet different point of view that they value as much as you do your own. And it is only in accepting that reality that we can then communicate ours respectfully and mutually open up new ways of seeing the world.

Korzybski introduced this theory in the first edition of his book, Science and Sanity, in 1933. I learned of it in the late 70's and have been trying to live it myself. I've been successful in knowing what it means, but the political narrative today is the greatest challenge to implementation I've faced in the fifty plus years I've been trying. So, if you want to give it a shot, be kind to yourself and realistic in your goals.

Robert De Filippis

[1] Wikipedia

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Robert De Filippis Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Author, columnist, and blogger with a long career in business management, management consulting and executive coaching. I've authored and published eight books: "You, Your Self and the 21st Century,"The Flowers Are Talking to Me," and "Faith (more...)

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