On Bluster and Bubbles

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the bubbles we live in.  If we restrict our experiences, the narratives to which we are exposed, the people and ideas with which we might be confronted, then we can pretend that the world is simpler and more aligned with our preferences.

We can ignore the world beyond the bubble which we wish did not exist.

We can resist seeing the reality of problems or contradictory experiences which lie beyond our bubble and which might make us question our preferences.

But the worst thing that bubbles do is allow us to pretend that the entirety of the real world doesn’t truly exist.

The types of people we fear or despise?  We can erase them from our reality.  We can continue as if they are myths.  The situations in which our particular moral code fails to fit?  We can call them imaginary, allegorical.  We can pretend that they never arise.

In fact, isn’t this often what we do in our spiritual paths?  We construct a universe in which our beliefs make sense, and then push everything contradictory to it out of our bubble.  We decide that “those” people are delusional or misled or evil and that if they do “those” types of things then they’re malicious.  Actual people who have actual reasons for believing differently or acting differently don’t exist.  They’re not real.  There is only us and those who would be us if they weren’t trying to deny the reality of our universe.

So what happens when we step outside those bubbles and actually experience the life outside?  What happens when we acknowledge that our universe is a construct of our own, and one which doesn’t truly capture everyone’s existence?

What happens is that we have to confront the dissonance.  We have to process the contradictions.  We have to figure out the relationship between ourselves and the things we wished didn’t exist, because they actually do.

And that’s why we don’t like leaving our bubbles.  It’s easy to pretend that you can fight and vanquish an imaginary foe, but when you’re staring it in the eye it’s not so easy.  In fact, you may find it’s not what should happen.  You might end up having to defend yourself, or you might end up having to extend aid to a person you expected to hate.  But you probably won’t, then, have the luxury of standing aside and not engaging in some kind of interaction.  You can’t imagine it or pretend.  And it’s frightening to most of us.

But it’s necessary.

Nothing good comes of denying the entirety of reality in all it’s inconvenient glory.

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