Loneliness is a part of the human condition, an odd thing to consider given our inherently social nature. To some extent, we are always and forever alone. We have distinct mind and bodies that can never be bridged (at least not yet, though if you believe in psychics, we’ve already managed). We can always connect with each other on some level, but I don’t think we could ever truly comprehend what goes on in one another’s minds.
Indeed, most people don’t even understand their own consciousness. We have habits, obsessions, or strange thoughts that have no rhyme or reason to them. We often can’t explain or justify our ideas and actions, nor can we account for the internal contradictions and struggles that transpire daily, whether it’s making a mundane choice between consumer purchases, or a profound one about career paths.
Not only can this lead to a sense of isolation – because no one can really identify with us on a deeper level – but it can cause a lot of conflict and confusion. Even people who know each other well endure misunderstandings and disagreements – imagine when we factor in the overwhelming majority of people in a given community, who don’t know each other well, if at all. Add in other factors like culture, faith, political identity, and a slew of other diverging characteristics, and one can see why conflict has always been an intractable part of our species.
I’m not stating this out of any sort of cynicism or misanthropy. I know that people bond with each other all the time, and I’m quite fortunate to have a wide and thriving network of wonderful individuals that I feel a connection with. I’m not saying that we’re invariably and totally alienated from each other, but that to some degree there will always be a barrier between one another: love and understanding can take us to great lengths, but only so far I think.
Keeping all this in mind, my overall point is that attempting to comprehend one another’s perspective is a challenging but invaluable exercise. Not only are we innately separated from each other, but we have a tendency – for obvious reasons – to judge people based on our own limited understanding of the world. We only know what our mind knows, and the standards we are based on distinct personal experiences and beliefs.
A person steeped in a certain ideology or limited to a handful of experiences will have a difficult time understanding someone who comes from a different set of each. All the cultures, languages, and other identities notwithstanding, there are individual exceptions that are unique to each of us too.
There are just too many layers to navigate, which is why trying to broaden our personal knowledge and experience, while engaging in dialogue with different people, is so crucial to bridging these intrinsic differences as much as possible.
Recognizing this, it always wracks my brain to ponder why people do the things they do, or believe what they believe.
This is especially true of people who, understandably, get very short thrift in our society: killers, rapists, thieves, vagrants, drug addicts, frauds, and all-around nasty people. Why do they behave so horribly? What goes through their mind? What is their justification or explanation for their actions? Humans have always try to self-rationalize everything they do, no matter how hypocritical or morally wrong – so how do these people do it? What are their rationalizations?
Just some thoughts from my wandering mind.