True Realism: From ‘I’ to ‘We’


Libby & Len Traubman – TRANSCEND Media Service





People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.
We’re children, needing other children
And yet letting a grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children.”
— Bob Merrill (1921-1998)

People who (realize they) need people may well be the wisest among us. Tomorrow’s leaders will be learners marked by their humility and mutual respect–asking questions, valuing and listening to others, empathizing with diverse other human beings.

Contemporary psychologists are clarifying why we’re important to one another–because any one of us sees only a tiny portion of life. Without one another–each person with minuscule understanding of information and people–we are vulnerable to making poor, even disastrous decisions.

Stanford psychologist Lee Ross in “The Objectivity Illusion” warns of the perilous, powerful trap of Naive Realism–the seductive sense that we’re seeing the world as it truly is or should be, without bias or error.

Said another way by comedian George Carlin:

“Anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.”

Professor Ross clarifies the signs:

“You see yourself as being about as politically liberal as it is reasonable to be. On most issues, you see people who are to the left of you as a bit more naïve, more idealistic than realistic, and overly inclined to political correctness. At the same time, you see those who are to the right of you as rather selfish and uncaring, as somewhat narrow-minded and not fully in touch with the lives that many people live and the problems they face in today’s world. In short, you (and everyone else) see your own political beliefs and leanings as the most realistic response to the specific times in which we live and the particular problems we face. You also see your views and positions as attuned to the realities of human nature. What’s more, given that you believe your political views are the ones most grounded in reality, it follows that those who do not share your views especially those far removed from you on the political spectrum are necessarily less realistic than you are. They lack your objectivity …  are more prone to seeing political matters through the prism of their ideology, self-interest, upbringing, or some other distorting influence.”

Much of life and people are invisible to us. We all have limited experiences and biases that shape what we see. The wisest among us will respectfully inquire more while seeking the largest view in search of civil human affairs and ways to sustain life together that benefits all.

Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD (1977-2015) wrote:

“In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only a part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

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