Understanding

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, XKCD publishes a new web comic. It’s one of a handful of websites I still have in my RSS reader that I check regularly. I always usually enjoy what he publishes. When I don’t enjoy it, it’s generally because I don’t get it…at all. This past Monday, 12/31/18, not only did I enjoy the comic, I found myself sitting with what the author is saying here.

What is that, exactly? I think it’s this: If you live in the United States, as I do, than you are literally among the last handful of people who experience the New Year. In other words: the vast majority of the world have a different experience than you do. I happen to live on the west coast of the US, which means that my experience around new year happens well after almost everyone’s.

Okay. That’s obvious. So what?

Here’s so what: it’s all too easy for any of us (I count myself in this for sure) to believe that the experience we are having is the experience everyone must be having. From the idea that of course everyone has a favorite sports team, to the experience of white privilege, to speaking English louder in order to be understood by a non-native speaker, it’s easy to assume that what we experience through our senses is what everyone does. To me, this comic highlights that what feels like the world is actually our very individual experience of the world. There are more than 7 billion other experiences happening, all equally valid.

This can be as true across the table as across the globe. Holding that in our minds and hearts as we go through our lives, I think, is one of the keys to being closer to one another. It’s one of those obvious-but-not-simple practices. Let’s all give it a bit of a go.

January 2, 2019


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