Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our Own Reality

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist(1879-1955)
We all wake up on the same day… oops, no we don’t, as time zones differ… but except on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, we all wake up in the same year. We all know, most of the time, what country we live in and in general, what is going on around us and have awareness of news from around the world. We call this reality based on what we’ve learned and what we perceive. But what is reality? We all think we know what it is. We all also have biases and ingrained beliefs about our world that affect our reality.

Philosophers have been grappling with what reality actually is for ages. I like to think of us as the self-appointed most intelligent species. We are aren’t we—the thinkers, inventors, and dreamers? Or were. We know so much… and often think so little, it's sometimes hard to tell. Biologists have learned other species have their own brand of intelligence and share more emotions than fear. We also often discover that what we knew, what we believed, was not exactly what we thought to be true or right. Truth and what is correct or right can be very nebulous. Ideas are susceptible to change. Time changes the world, exploration of the ideas change what we think as individuals, societies, and populations.  Still, as long as it can be put into historical perspective or scientific learning or theory, we accept these changes as reality.

Mostly, I think, we all believe reality is just how things are, the world as we see it. That view changes. For instance, once people believed the Earth was flat. Then they learned the sun and stars didn’t revolve around the Earth. Within the last hundred or so years people have leaned the Earth is an insignificant portion of the universe, and now some are saying that our universe might not be the only one. Theories evolving from quantum physics and the experiments and proposals scientists have made produced even a concept of multiple universes. Thomas J. MacFarlane suggests our concept of reality is an illusion, something other philosophers have also claimed. Scientists are asking confounding questions about reality such as can the future affect the past?

Yet scientific research and thought aside, reality remains nebulous as each of us, all seven billion plus of us, has a different perception about what we know and understand our world to be. We each observe and live in a different reality with a somewhat unified grasp of our own community, and a filtered view of the rest of the world through our various news and social mediums. Yet those from places other than our own, often claim the people there are just like those here.

Most of us know we have to eat and sleep to survive. In my corner of the world, people have to present themselves as clean, decent, and hard-working individuals in order to earn food and a safe place to sleep. We want an education. That is not true around the world.

Some individuals and government believe they have the right to do whatever they want to the natural world (as it is perceived): drive other species extinct, over populate and destroy delicate ecosystems, or destroy other ecosystems for valuable commodities we need right now. We all participate because those commodities have become part of the fabric of our lives.

The problem becomes—what will we do once these resources are gone? What will our reality be then? Is that all they are, just resources for us to consume? We often learn to our regret, making changes causes unexpected changes. The Christian Bible says God gave man domain over the Earth, but he never promised to fix it if we destroyed His creation.

We all operate on a daily (time construction based on observed reality of earth-moon-sun cycle) basis of what happens, what others do, what we expect, and how we react to events. We base most of this on our collective human knowledge of history, investigation, and discovery, and on our five senses. Archeologists and geologists study what happened before humans arose, yet their information is often open to interpretation, their knowledge is of the greater events not the daily minutia. We depend on the normalcy of our lives to have the same knowledge of our world tomorrow as it was yesterday, although we all  have different perspectives and knowledge of what happened. This is the information we base reality on. It helps keep us sane and able to consider our lives normal no matter what our normal is, yet whatever our understanding of normality is, it might be imaginary.

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