One of the areas I continue to bring into this conversation is reality. We are creating realities all the time, and don’t realize we are doing so. I look out the window and see a tree that is filled with spring buds and immediately have thoughts of new life, an emotional reaction of warmth and a mood of happiness. This reality is activated by my past experiences.
We are in a constant state of painting reality pictures and believing they are TRUE! This is the tricky part of reality. If you present me with information or ideas that are inconsistent with my reality, I generally want to prove you wrong. After all, what kind of world will I have if my reality is proven false?
I do the same thing, of course. When I feel strongly about something, from my enjoyment of a movie, to the car I drive, to the food I’m preparing tonight, I want to convince you that this is the best. I use all sorts of techniques to get you to see things my way. My motivation is simple. If you agree with me, then I must be right. Having confirmation of my reality helps me feel peaceful.
Several small problems exist with this. First, just because one or more of you agree with my perceptions doesn’t mean they are true. It just means that we agree. The second issue is that my reality is based upon my suppositions, beliefs, opinions and experiences. This reality is personal and is, for the most part, not universally true. Yet, I have the tendency to expect my reality to be everyone’s worldview. This perspective always leads to disappointment.
I was talking with a friend today about this topic and the notion of opportunistic reality arose. Opportunistic reality occurs when my need to get something from you is so great that I completely “forget” my intrinsic values. An example of opportunistic reality is the need for profits by corporations that may override their stated concerns for factory worker safety. When I am in the distorted field of opportunistic reality, how I view worker safety is colored by my need. If it has some negative impact on my profits to see otherwise, I will easily rationalize the level of worker safety to be adequate even if others, who aren’t under the influence of this reality, can easily see the risk workers are faced with.
This sort of opportunistic reality is part of politics in a strong way. Newt Gingrich, a current Republican candidate for president, has promised that as president, he will lower the price of gasoline to $2.50 a gallon. While former speaker Gingrich knows full well the president doesn’t have this power, he is living in an opportunistic reality to get badly needed voter support.
This is a fascinating topical area that I will be expanding my writing on over the months ahead. If you have examples of opportunistic reality, or have thoughts about it to share, please speak up. I have a sense we are on to a very important topic.