It is everywhere. Those subtle nudges to get us to think and act in certain ways. When we do not agree, others attempt to shame us. Instead of living from our authentic core, guilt seeps into the cracks of our being. Regret at our inability to conform powers the fear that we are wrong. We may even be embarrassed about who we are. None of this is because we have done anything wrong. It is because we do not agree with a conclusion another person or group has made about a series of facts.
To live prophetically, you’ve got to be questioning and looking at factors behind the facts. You’ve got to be aware that there are contradictions, says Thomas Merton. This quote has been resonating with me more and more. While questioning and looking at the factors behind the facts might not make me the most popular person, I cannot seem to stop. This close examination is my way of getting the greatest understanding of someone’s conclusion.
So, when someone tells me that we live in the safest time ever, I wonder if that is really true. When this same person tells me that if I do not believe his series of facts that I have been brainwashed into believing that we live in dangerous times, I recognize the attempt to shame me into believing as he does. This triggers a deeper digging into the factors behind his facts.
I begin with the word trigger word brainwash. I feel my entire being pulling in. Maybe I have been hoodwinked into believing something that is untrue. If I do not feel safe, what is the matter with me? So, I feel ashamed that once again, I just cannot behind the party line.
Next, I get off the shame train as I look at the factors behind the facts. When I really look at the proclamation, I discover that the foundation is created by the number of deaths due to war and gun violence. His safety had nothing to do with an increase in poverty, a reduction in wages, and skyrocketing housing costs. These are, for me, basic safety indicators. So, while I may be safe from war and gun violence, I am not feeling safe based upon my chief indicators of safety.
The factors behind the facts. Both of us come to very different conclusions about safety based upon the factors we use to come to our conclusion. Who is right? Both of us or neither. There is probably a third or fourth or fifth person who bases their understanding of safety on another set of factors.
Each of us, as individuals and communities, have our own personal experience. We are drawn to factors that prove our personal reality. This reality holds up to the right kind of scrutiny, but when someone has a different set of factors, holes are poked into the reality. Peering through the holes, we are asked to reassess what we believe to be true.
Instead of becoming defensive, we compassionately listen to the conclusion while actively searching for the factors behind the facts. We reassess what we believe without engaging our feelings of being threatened and moving into attack mode. We take care not to accuse — saying “you’ve been brainwashed,” “you are ignorant,” or others phrases that are meant to shame another into believing what we believe.
Pushing people into believing as we do creates a unstable, homogenous belief system. No longer diverse, we lose opportunities to evolve into our most authentic self and allow others to become their most authentic self. At best we, as community, maintain the status quo. At worst, we devolve as individuals and community.
What if instead of shaming someone, we dialogued compassionately? What if instead of poking holes in the reality of another, we listened compassionately with the intent to understand? What if we were less invested in having someone be a carbon copy of us and more invested in being our authentic best? Through this wide openness transformation would flood. We would discover exactly what factors are informing our facts and the facts of another.
We are prophetic. Our words, thoughts, and actions foretell our future. Not in the psychic way of knowing when you will meet the man of your dreams. No, in the way that our whole being — body/mind/spirit/heart — creates a future of love and compassion. Through engaged compassion, our factors do not create a world in which everyone is a brainwashed cloned. Through our factors we celebrate differences of opinion. Our individual and collective factors behind the facts create a pathway to evolution of ourself and the collective.
No more shaming. No more brainwashing. We invite other to join us on this journey of discovering the factors that inform the facts. On this pathway we let go of forcing another to be like us. We live in the power of a widely diverse, accepting world filled not of others but of us.
Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Contact Vanessa @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action.