This is a topic for which libraries full of books have been written. It has no simple explanation, nor a simple solution. People, society are complicated – and wonderfully so.
I was musing this morning that the source of so much conflict in our day to day lives stem from unvalidated and distorted perceptions of reality.
Everybody has a perception of reality that is slightly different than the next person and almost certainly flawed in some way. Often it manifests itself as the belief that “People / situations should behave or be this way” and it is incredibly distressing when a situation is encountered which does not conform to this perception. We have to leave our comfort zones in order to accommodate the reality with which we are confronted.
I believe healthy people are able to subtly adjust their world views based on experience and that folks who steadfastly refuse to accommodate the world as it exists enter into a spiral of conflict and distress that eventually consumes them.
A simple example are landscape planners. Have you ever walked up to a building and saw that, although there was a walkway leading up from the sidewalk, there were also paths of tramped-down grass cutting diagonally across the lawn leading to the entryway? Someone had a vision of how the front yard should be used and did not consider how folks would really use it.
What is the rational solution here? Should hedges be planted? Should “Keep off the Grass” signs be erected? What have you seen in your travels?
I have heard of a brilliant landscape planner that really didn’t know what to expect so he waited several months before finalizing the design and then simply ensured pathways were created where he saw folks were actually coming across the property. Folks use the property in a way that is convenient for them and their use can be incorporated into the design. This must surely be more attractive an option, and less frustrating for all, than muddy footpaths cutting throughout the property.
But what if your view of the world involves thoughts that are overly simplistic and you refuse to acknowledge or accept that the world is more complicated than that?
What if you are Howard Hughes and can’t accept that the world and especially the human body, was never meant to be absolutely sterile? How do you deal with that?
What if you feel that each person is unique and that the loss of all those experiences and personality to death would be unacceptable? How do you deal with the loss of a loved one? What if the universe does not cater to your ideal?
What if you feel that there is an underlying “fairness” to the universe and yet your house is flooded and destroyed by a storm? How do you deal with something that so fundamentally flies in the face of your world view?
What kind of person does it take to accept such realities, roll with them and move on to continue to grow and flourish? What kind of person collapses under these realities?