Perception

In all of the culture wars that are being waged, I wish people could hear one thing. What we think, feel, and hear is filtered by the lens of the heart. We perceive right and wrong from a personal point of view.

The relativists among us hear that statement and say, “I told you there is no right and wrong. My truth is my truth.” Those who believe in relative truth missed the word perceive. Truth about human behavior can be judged according to outcomes even as a good science can be judged according to the outcomes of an experiment. There are behaviors that create chaos and destruction. There are behaviors that promote health and well being.

I work in the field of addiction recovery. I am often viewed critically by those who practice addiction recovery from a non-faith point of view. I understand the negativity toward faith in the addiction recovery area, because some of us who are faith based have earned the skepticism. We make statements of “faith” that cannot be tied to any level of outcomes, declaring that they are not to be tested because they are “faith.”

Healthy is healthy and healthy produces good outcomes in terms of human behavior. There is truth in the addiction recovery world. There is something called healthy, and where healthy is practiced, it generally will have good results. I say generally because I have found that human beings are very complex. There are often many deep and hidden layers that are affecting current behavior. Just when we think someone is on the road to healthy, a new layer surfaces and there is more work to be done.

Even so, there is truth about social behavior. There are behaviors that are healthy and there are behaviors that are unhealthy. There are behaviors that work in some situations, behaviors that are almost always harmful, and behaviors that just don’t matter much in any situation. The test should be outcomes.

The dispute over standing for the flag at ball games is classic. For one group, it is all about honor and respect of the military and police. For the other, it is about the abuse of power and injustices. Both of these groups have assigned meanings to a particular action. The response of either side is according to a cultural lens, to its assigned value to the action. Both sides think that their cultural values should be respected more than the values of the other side. Neither side is willing to admit that there is a lens involved. Both are responding as if they owned all the good outcomes on their side.

Honor and respect is a great value. Without it, the society crumbles. Abuse of power is wrong. Justice is needed in the way we handle all people. In the flag controversy, these two values have been set against one another in a winner take all contest. To this point, we have only losers.

The only way forward is for our nation is to actually practice what it preaches. We use the word science over and over again and we place our faith in science. The problem is that science is becoming more known for its theories and less known for its facts. Science is becoming more and more ruled by political factors than by provable fact. The same is true in these value wars.

Values have outcomes. In addiction recovery, when a person actually responds to a circle of people who are healthy who are speaking into his life, he is virtually guaranteed to get sober. If instead, a person continues to respond to life according to his own instincts, he is virtually guaranteed to stay in his addiction. For those in the faith arena, God is a significant part of that circle. If the person is connecting with God in a healthy way, that is a very positive factor—but not the only factor. Many who connect with God find that faith alone is not enough. Healthy is healthy. There are practical steps that need to be taken to get healthy.

Honor is a great value. Right use of power is a great value. Figuring out how and when to apply these values takes wisdom, and not a shouting of “my values.” I don’t know how to get the two sides to hear one another, but a good start is the word perception. Our perception of right and wrong is just that. If we want to move from perception to science, there is a simple word called outcomes.

With the current cultural wars, no one is winning. We are shouting past one another. Can we actually stop long enough to affirm the values of one another? Can we have an intelligent discussion about how to best apply those values? Listening. That would be a novel and healthy way to move forward.

Can we take an honest look at the outcomes being created by the values? Instead of “You will hear me!” … maybe we ought to take the initiative to actually honor the values of the other side. Instead, we regularly belittle the other side and that lack of respect creates negative outcomes.

This is one power struggle that won’t be won by a power struggle. If one side wins, the other side remains angry, waiting for its next opportunity to rise up and rule. In this case, healthy starts with hearing. Do you see your points of perception? Can you hear the points of others? Healthy. Let’s work for better outcomes!

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