Updated: Dec 3, 2020
It's not the big steps that matter.
A few years ago, the very talented filmmaker Kogonada produced a video essay called WHAT IS NEOREALISM, in which he is examining the differences between Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s "Terminal Station" and producer David Selznick’s recut of the very same film, which was released in the U.S. as "Indiscretion of an American Wife." The story describes one reality, but results in two completely different films. While it is a fascinating examination on film theory, the much more salient point comes from the fact that the same story can be told in many different ways--exposing many sides of a truth, depending on the viewer. This made me think about the times we live in, drawing some parallels from film into today's realities:
The same story is being told in two completely different ways. The original story was remade to fit different tastes, no different how media and social media targets us today, and how and where we consume news and information.
Are we just trying to confirm existing biases by the media we consume, the way we perceive information, and avoid anything uncomfortable at all costs? And what is the truth we want to see? Current happenings in the USA confirm that there is a bias on the elections--a largely debunked theory that has been seeded months ago by the President, but that still took hold among his supporters, and is now the "truth" that his supporters will not vacate. "They" don't want to watch the other film, so to speak. They don't even want to hear the story at the heart of the film--all they want to do is put their movie on repeat. Because it's comfortable, confirms their biases, and does not require a trip out of the comfort zone. At the same time, the "others"--the ones who support the winning bid, are only interested in watching their preferred version of events to unfold, completely unwilling to consider any arguments that may take away from the victory. The ability to consider another man's opinions for what they are--opinions--and not personalizing opinions, which turn a dissenting fellow into an enemy, has become an endangered species, helped by certain public personalities, and the media organizations that support them. Trickling down to us, we all have become way too much comfortable waiting for someone to stop speaking, instead of listening.
How can we avoid further silo-ing of our cultures and create a more open culture again? What if we applied the art of re-telling a story by reframing it to our daily interactions, our life decisions and outlook in general? And how do we do this?
Applied to the perception and decision-making process, the simple act of reframing may yield astonishing results. Take politics, for example: if you find yourself railing against what a certain politician or party has done, replace that politician with the one you support, and the party you support. If you are still railing against that action, then you will have found the truth of the story, independently of your affiliation. It serves as a good litmus test against the polarization of opinion which stands in the way of finding the truth of a problem, coming up with solutions, and a simple way to erode those silos.
Reframing takes willingness to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes a physical action can help lead the way to reframing: for example, if we take a different route than we usually do--on an errand, a run, or going to work. Just doing that, we notice different things, and our perception of the world (of what we perceived during the journey that is different from before) has been enriched with other impressions which may make us see things differently. Those who are the most empathetic are those who can put themselves into other people's shoes all the time--context is everything. Anyone remember that photo of Keanu Reeves sitting with a homeless person and chatting? Just by sitting with that person, seeing the world from his eyes, Keanu probably gained a different appreciation of the world.
It takes work, but if used correctly, reframing can be very powerful, because it takes us out of our comfort zone, challenges preconceived notions but ultimately is a superpower for those who wish to do things differently, and change the status quo instead of complaining, blaming and regressing into their silos of preconceived notions. Small steps every day of doing so will amount to large changes over time, and the only constant in time is change.
We all either grow, or die a little every day. Which would you prefer?