Losing Assumptions

Wall of Assumptions in Our Mind

Bruce Wayne in “Batman Begins”, played excellently by Christian Bale, said these words to his future arch-nemesis (but at that time hidden):

I needed to understand the thoughts
and feelings of those who stand in
the shadows…

The first time you’re forced to
steal not to starve…

…you lose many assumptions about
the simple nature of right and
wrong.”

Sometimes a book, a comic book or a poem strikes through the haze of your thoughts and like a ray of sun, pierces through that fog and gets straight to your heart. Occasionally, not often, something else does the same – and in this case, it is Nolan’s epic trilogy – at this particular line, delivered while Bruce Wayne’s past experience flashes onscreen.

There is truth in these words.

We make assumptions based on our own personal experiences and as time goes, these assumptions morph into “principles” that not actually dictate our direction, but in reality, excuses our intentions. The problem is that no one actually cares to peel off the assumptions that we have built our decision-making on. We take on these assumptions due to circumstances; sometimes because it worked in the past, or because of our companions and the seeking of approval from them, or even from our natural inclinations (personality). Whatever the reason for its introduction in our lives, we make assumptions. Sometimes, these assumptions are “pragmatic” – helps us to navigate through certain difficulties and uncomfortable situations in our lives. But often, these assumptions are “dangerous” – as it turns us into “zombies” that are myopic in their behaviour.

The worst type of assumptions are made in religion – in the dawn of the 21st century, we are again revisiting this recurring problem. Religious tensions are higher than ever, and conflicts that are religion-motivated have become the norm. All this from the sad simple truth – we have lost the ability to step into the other person’s shoes. Not only do you see such disparity between different religious groups, but this conflict is intensified within the same religion – among the different sects and groups. This is especially true in Christendom. It does not matter whether you are Protestant, Evangelical, Conservative, Fundamental and Reformed – there will be a line or verse that will set you off (trigger). Sadly, even within the same belief system, there will be intense disagreements with a practice or an action (noted that there is a margin of acceptance in ‘disagreements’, especially in certain non-essential beliefs). Why do we find it hard to drop our assumptions?

We are afraid of getting into the other person’s shoes. That is what fundamentally “shocks” me with “Batman’s confession” above. It is when we take the courage to literally walk into the mind of the “other person”, that we start to understand the issues. But we do not. It is frightening to be in a new situation, with a new context and unpredictable outcomes. It is terrifying to face the unknown, and to lose the comfort of familiarity and more importantly, to lose the security of control. When we perceive to be in the passenger seat rather than the driver’s – we become afraid. That is the core problem – our pride does not want to let go of what we think we have. Listen to the other side, and our pride gets a shattering blow that begins to crack our wall of assumptions!

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