One of the most confusing things about life is the constant struggle with other people. In theory, these struggles should be easy, and we shouldn’t always be at each other’s throats, let alone have even minor disagreements. However, humans seem to have an unusual capacity for disagreement that turns into hate, that then turns into war. Since we all are part of the human experience, it seems to make more sense that we should get along, but we don’t. Why is that?
The easy answer is that we come from different backgrounds, live in different parts of the world, and thus are different people with different experiences. That’s an easy answer, but wouldn’t explain the constant strife many people have on a day-to-day even within their own small part of the world. Even within societies where most people agree to the rules and regulations of the society, there seems to be constant drama and struggle between individuals, even those that profess love and commitment to each other. Why?
Simply put, I believe that its because we Don’t Know Each Other.
What does that mean exactly? Everyone thinks they know people, and you probably will respond that there are people in your life that you know really well. Everyone thinks they know their wife, their parents, their kids really well — but then again, you can probably name a few hundred times that you’ve be surprised by their behavior and don’t “get” why they are acting that way. If you know someone you should be able to predict the behavior, right?
No, you don’t know them and you may never know them.
The greeks have a unique work that we use also in the English language. It’s “gnosis.” It means knowledge, but not knowledge in the way that you may be thinking of it. It refers to personal knowledge, that which only you can understand through cognitive reasoning. It’s knowledge through experience. It’s a concept that doesn’t really exist in the English language except in philosophy.
The easy way to explain it is to think about what an orange taste like. If someone asked you to explain what an orange taste like, you’d probably explain it to be sweet, citric like… orange tasting. However, they would have no idea what you were talking about, just maybe have an “idea” what it tasted like.
The only way for them to “know” what an orange tasted like would be to eat one. Then they would truly “know” what an orange tasted like. That’s “gnosis.”
This knowledge is part of the problem we have as human that makes our lives so difficult. We all experience the world differently and have a different knowledge of how the world works. We all make our own rules in our mind, our own assumptions, because we experience things differently. It’s why some people like the taste of different food items, and other people do not.
It’s also the basis of strife and war. When experiences are so different and so diverse, often people can’t understand why someone else doesn’t agree with them completely. It seems obvious to them that what they believe to be true MUST be true. We KNOW that which we believe to be true is true, because we feel it from the bottom of our heart and very being. How can’t other people understand what is right in front of their nose?
This is what I mean when I say we DON’T KNOW OTHER PEOPLE. We truly do not know them, know their experience, know what they are thinking, what they experienced — and we don’t want to know.
So, in life, business, family, whatever you are doing, sometimes you need to sit down and “taste” another person’s life. You may think you’re feelings are completely right, that you’re anger is deserved: but more than likely you’re in many ways wrong. Unless you can find a way to truly connect to another person’s life and experience it, you’re never going to understand what they are going through.
Maybe now you can find ways to “taste” other people’s life and understand them better. Think about it a little how you can understand you love’s problems, his experience, and “know” her better. Look at a co-worker you don’t like, that you think is “always wrong” and understand their issues a little bit more by thinking what it would be like to be in their shoes.
It won’t fix everything, but it’s a start to loving yourself and being kind to others.