For each one of us, our vision or Big Picture is personal and unique, based on our individual life circumstances and our sense of who we are as a human being. And yet, for all of us, our universal realities intersect. We are all human beings, and like other organisms, we need food, water, air, and a place to lay our bodies down to sleep – even if that place is the street. A baby who is not sufficiently held and cared for – even if it has enough food and water – may fail to develop and gain weight due to a syndrome known as “failure to thrive.” Unlike most other creatures, in order to thrive, we human beings need some sense of love, hope, meaning, and trust. How these terms translate into a metalanguage that can be understood by all humans, I do not know. And just because we need love, hope, meaning, and trust, does not mean that we get them, just as we all do not get a livable home and enough to eat. But we are not ants and we are not maple trees and we are not fungi. We are human beings, with minds and with emotions, and our needs include those not easily translatable from language to language. And yet, like the ants and the maple trees and the fungi, we all share the Earth on which we live. Even as we fly off into space, we cannot get away from our connection to the planet upon which we evolved. It is home. It is our home. It is home for all of us, all 7 billion of us.
An important aspect of scientific research is the need to be objective. I have a friend who is studying science in a way that acknowledges the limits of our ability to do so. We can try to be objective. We can try really hard, and with some things, such as our concrete measurements, we can succeed. But we are governed not only by “seeing is believing,” but also by “believing is seeing.” Behind every measurement lie our beliefs. Behind every measurement is the decision of which measurement to take, and that decision – like all of our other decisions – is a very personal one, impacted by our own personal story of who we are and how we have gotten to this point in life. It is impacted by our family and our community, by our culture, our religion or lack there of, our race, our genes, our birthplace – physical, economic, and social. And, I would posit, our decisions are impacted by our ability or lack of ability to trust the unknown/Unknown and the unknowable/Unknowable.
Life events change us, and can change how we see the world. Trauma – a radical change in our immediate world – tends to change us. We want to keep ourselves safe. Sometimes we do it through anger, sometimes through escape into tightly knit communities, sometimes by embracing peace and serenity. We make choices. We make decisions. We make decisions about what to believe and what to do. And then, our decisions have impact.