With increasing certainty I’m seeing how deeply most of us are captured by a set of widely-held beliefs and how hard it is to step outside the frame to see any other world view as true. I’m feeling strongly now is the time to open to other truths and to be willing to hold our ground while standing outside the normal thinking.
Our perceptions of how violent the world is, how high the chances of being a crime victim, our sense of terrorism in the world and more are shaped by the stories the media and our leaders have perpetuated. It’s ingrained in us that the world operates according to these accepted stories but if you let yourself open to other stories you will see other truths exist and are ignored.
I’ve previously written about my personal experience with studying crime statistics in graduate school. Details are in the previous post so for now let’s just say the statistics on probability of victimhood have remained the same for decades — stretching back to at least early 20th century USA; no more chance in the 60’s or 70’s or now of being the victim of any of the major crimes* than in the 30’s or 40’s. You know, back when people didn’t lock their doors and weren’t afraid of crime.
I tell people about this often and I see them startle and then brush it off and return to the now-ingrained perception that crime is getting worse all the time. Just a small shift from reporting probabilities to reporting gross numbers (which of course go up as the population grows) combined with the rise of a national media and a fascination for bad news changed our perception from one of safety to one of fear. Perception of truth changed. What was actually happening changed not at all.
I come back to this often since I know the data so well and it has been a touchstone for me in awareness of how our beliefs can be shaped by which facts those in power choose to present. I’m not saying journalists are evil manipulators. I think they’re immersed in the same belief system, so what they see is shaped by the same forces and then the folks they work for are encouraging the parade of horror stories because it sells better. And law enforcement has every reason to encourage the mis-perception because it garners them bigger budgets.
Armed with that knowledge and greatly helped by the Internet I’ve been able to see the same thing happens on many fronts. Take, for instance, the widespread hysteria over terrorism. Check out the graph below and note the probability of being a victim of a terrorist attack.
Graphically displayed you can see the widespread fear of being a victim of terrorist violence is so far out of proportion to the likelihood as to be ludicrous.
People should be feeling terrified of heart disease and dieting and exercising to save themselves. But the media doesn’t fan the flames of fear about heart disease, they prefer the giant drama of terrorist attacks. [For more info on these probabilities, see this article.] It’s time for us to stop being mesmerized by false perceptions fostered by the media and government and really see what merits our fears and what is unworthy of our awareness.
If you turn your attention in the other direction and actively look for stories of nonviolence, you will see there are groups and individuals creating nonviolent movements and performing nonviolent acts all around the world. It just doesn’t make the mainstream news.
This video in which Julia Bacha discusses the price of focusing on violence instead of nonviolence is well worth the ten or so minutes it takes to watch.
When I started searching for positive news to share every day (see post) I started turning off the hypnotic suggestions winding constantly through my brain and stepping into a new sense of the world. I don’t have to sit around envisioning an imaginary world full of good people doing good things in some mystical future. I see a world full of good people doing good things right here, right now.
Many things came together for me at once. The sorry result of the U.S. election led me to institute lovingkindness practice. A sense in my personal journey that it was time to stop eradicating issues and start creating the next phase led to positive guided meditations, etc. Distress over the negative views on FB led to searching every day for good news. After some months I realized the persistent change of my focus awakened a new, deep-seated view of the propensity for goodness being enacted every day in all parts of the world.
As I pointed out in another post, the constant doom and gloom about the environment can be seen from an uplifting view — backed by a great deal of science — that changes are already happening which, if current progress continues, will reverse global warming.
The web now allows us (see links at bottom) to see every-day acts of kindness, movements to help the environment, to create peace, etc.** Mainstream media choose to focus on 5% of what’s happening and we the people encourage them by buying the parade of horrors over the good news.
We can make the choice to put our attention on the 95% who are doing good or are at least benign. We can stop supporting the parade of horrors. It’s up to us to create the change. It’s time to snap out of the hypnotic fascination with mainstream news and views and open our eyes to other truths.
The problem is I’m also reading about changing people’s minds and have read many research articles informing me it’s not so easy. Once people have made up their minds about a belief — regardless of it’s truth — they really don’t want to change it. Ra of Rarasaur put up the cutest and most fun version of this info, a cartoon/info post on The Oatmeal. The upshot is I’m all fired up about changing perspective and stepping outside the currently accepted assumptions about the state of the world and I don’t know what to do to help.
I know most of my readers are already here on this. I’m a little bit hoping for some help in spreading the word. But even more I”m hoping for ideas of what we who are awake can do to help change enough peoples’ perception to create a new paradigm. For supporting one another in stepping outside the depressing views so widely held and holding firm in the stance that other, more powerful, truths are out there and growing stronger. If the majority actually paid attention to this alternate reality, the world would change.
*Unless you’re a black or brown male between the ages of 15 and 25 and living in an inner city. Those chances of being murdered are way up.
**Three places to find good news: