The image makes it clear as daylight: What we see is what we think it to be. In many cases. But it’s not always clear right at first what it is we see, exactly.
So, one thing are the facts of the matter.
How we interpret them is the next step. Not only in regard to the actual being: Is it a snake in the grass – or just a bubbling brook?
In general: Appearances can be deceptive.
It is a wise man – or woman – who takes time for judgement. And checks their (assumed) facts before acting.
Of course, in simple cases – let’s say, asking yourself if that egg is really fresh – nothing much is needed to make sure. Yet, better to do so. Or the whole dish will go to waste.
But in terms of situations and people? How easy is it to be mistaken? And to be taken for something you aren’t?
The most tragic occurrences of such grave mistakes are miscarriages of justice. People sentenced to years of prison, yet proven innocent years or even decades later. Or sentenced to death and executed. The newspaper reports and movies on the subject run to hundreds if not thousands.
In everyday life just as well things can easily become tragic, if we are not careful with either our facts – or their interpretation.
So, next time around, check your perspective, your facts – and your sources.
Peace and conflict studies have been a part of social science since the 19th century, started apparently in Sweden and were furthered by the US civil war of the 1860s. The basics say that there are patterns to conflicts, the larger as well as the smaller ones.
One thing I learned early in life: Conflict usually starts somewhere and somehow – and if you are not careful, it can escalate and before you know it, things become unmanageable or even unbearable.
My father was what these days is called a ‘coach’. As academic, scholar and a degree in law as well as strong background in psychology he was well known in a large international company: He sometimes told details and explained to us as kids how easily people in offices can get into almost insolvable hassles like Gordian knots that he used to solve with his colleagues, in some cases after years of silence between members of a team.
In private life I observed and suffered from rifts. So, if anyone, I am one who knows. I have read a lot and one thing I’ve learned by studying and my own experience:
Few things in this life are really so big that they deserve angry arguments, conflicts or actual rifts.
Very often it is not so much about the conflict or argument as such – but the consequences. Pride, one of the hardest, immovable and ‘stubborn’ reasons for sometimes dreadful fallings-out, is only one aspect.
That is why I think it is well worth my and other people’s while to think twice before starting – a conflict.