Welcome to Insights and Implications!
In this month’s newsletter, Sandy takes you on a safari – not to see wildlife but to appreciate separate realities.
All of us at Insight Principles
A Separate Reality Safari
I am writing this newsletter on a plane returning home from an unforgettable safari in Tanzania.
Travel opens our eyes and hearts to new cultures. We are full of questions, inquiring as to the meaning and purpose of the behaviors we observe. We are curious and open. After all, isn’t learning about lives different from our own a main reason we travel to new places?
My fellow travelers on the safari were from various US states. We listened with wrapped attention as our safari guide told us about himself. He was from the Ikoma tribe, a tribe of subsistence poachers in northern Tanzania. His father had three wives. We were fascinated by his journey from his rural village to boarding school and eventually to university, converting to Christianity along the way. He told us he still owns land and a hut in his native village and spends a month with his people sharing their customs with his wife and young son.
The next day we visited a workshop that employed women afflicted with albinism – a rare genetic disorder that causes the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color. People in Tanzania with albinism have historically been shunned, or worse, maimed or killed because of the belief that their body parts held magical powers. We spent time with several women with albinism. We had so many questions that our trip leader finally had to tell us it was time to move on.
The same curiosity reigned when we visited the Masai villages and of course with every wildlife sighting.
An interesting thing would happen around the dinner table, however. The minute anyone brought up the subject of US politics, all curiosity ceased. People took sides. No one seemed interested in the “culture” of those who held an opposing view. It was as if a switch had been flipped – mind open, mind closed.
I couldn’t help wondering what politics, or any human interaction would be like if we were all on safari together. What if you and I were two unique cultures anxious to learn about one another?
We wouldn’t always agree. Not one person in my group of travelers planned to become a polygamist or move to Tanzania and live in a mud hut with a thatched roof or drink warm lamb’s blood. Everyone of us was delighted to learn everything we could about these practices. The absence of judgement was remarkable.
Here’s an example of what might happen if we remembered and appreciated the fact that we live in separate realities. This story was shared with me by a participant in a recent Insight Principles program.
I was in a team meeting and we were having a “wondering session” about a critical business issue. Someone shared his wonder about a potential strategy. I felt myself react to what he said. I could tell immediately that I had stopped wondering. Instead I was thinking up a storm about the ramifications of my colleague’s strategy and how much I disagreed with it.
I really wanted to say something but instead, I waited. An interesting thing happened. I got curious again. A new wonder came to mind and I shared it. The team ended up having an open and productive dialogue.
We are living in a reality crafted by our own thoughts. The creative power of thought to generate our unique experience will always be underestimated. Appreciating this fact results in more humility, better listening, and a keen interest in others, especially when they see a world very different from our own.