Today’s Intention: Unlearn the “wrongs” I’ve been taught and be patient with those who disagree with me. It is very difficult to correct a wrong if we don’t know it’s a wrong. Some might say it’s easy to recognize evil. Hitler evil. Mother Theresa good. But what if the Nazis had won the war? Would I have been taught different facts and have a different view of the world then I do now?
If asked, “Who invented the cotton gin in 1793?” If you remember your high school social studies/American history then you probably answered: Eli Whitney. I did research twenty years ago for my Master’s Project on women in science. At that time, I found in the research that it was widely accepted that Catherine Greene invented the cotton gin but since she was female she could not apply for the patent. Some believe, and I do not argue, that a slave on her plantation actually presented the idea to her.
Why is this important? When I did a search today — twenty years after the facts established that Eli Whitney received the patent for the cotton gin but did not invent it — the first thing that popped up — Eli Whitney was the inventor. So how much of what we KNOW to be true is false?
As a teacher I was taught it takes around 7 times to learn a fact. But it takes a lot more times to unlearn an incorrect fact before you could then take at least 7 times to learn the correct fact. So the question is why do we keep teaching incorrect facts and why should we care? And how does this relate to the opening quote?
It comes down to two topics personally close to my heart and which both are very frustrating because of the initial labels given to them: global warming and fragrance free. When we look at what was initially taught about global warming — two facts still hold true: the overall level of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide continue to rise and the overall average temperature of the earth continues to rise. Here’s the problem, people learned the earth was getting warmer, and so where they lived should be getter warmer too. When some places got colder, people cried fraud and decided evil was among us. As an earth science teacher I could go into great detail as to why some places will get colder. Scientists have now changed the name to Climate Change. And yet, people still struggle repeating over and over the term global warming and how it must be wrong because it has gotten colder. Here we can go back to the previous paragraph about learning and unlearning.
This same problem exists with the term go “fragrance free”. For thousands of years people anointed themselves with fragrant oils — so fragrances are good and people claiming to be sickened by them — well — we must be crazy at best and down right nasty people for trying to take away people’s perfume/cologne at worst. Those having read my blog long enough know that today’s “fragrances” unlike those in biblical times are usually not made from flowers or other materials found in nature but rather in a lab where a concoction of chemicals are mixed to mimic the scent of one of our natural wonders. Like the term global warming, I believe we need to ditch the term fragrance free — I don’t know to what term, but if I have to explain to a person 14 times that it’s not the smell that bothers me in a synthetic fragrance but the toxic mix of chemicals, and then take another 7 times to teach them correct facts: Holy Crap — with MCS I don’t have the energy for that.
Any suggestions for a label that doesn’t require all this unlearning before the learning can begin let me know?
So how does this relate to love? What did you learn that you know for a fact to be true about love because Mom or Dad or someone you respected “taught” it until it was a part of your very being? Remember most of what kids learn is not from what a parent says but rather what they do. Were you taught to embrace the moment?
Or was it that: when money is short — yelling should ensue? If I don’t get love in the way I want it, I should withdrawal my affection and display apathy? Hitting is okay as long as I say “I didn’t mean it and I’ll never do it again?” As long as I’m making money to put food on the table, hugs and words of affection are not necessary? As long as I “hide” my disdain for my spouse, and I don’t fight in front of the kids, everything will be okay?
This whole rambling post came about because I have been fumbling around trying to unlearn something I learned from my childhood. Many years ago I told a friend of this issue and how I felt like I was in the old Twilight Zone episode where a guy keeps getting off a train and finding himself at the same train stop. He gets back on the train and repeats getting off and back on at the same station over and over, each time expecting a different result. I figured out about five years ago I was doing this in my romantic relationships. I kept getting back on the train but each time I acknowledged my repetitive behavior and each time I took a step forward to unlearning the wrong I previously owned as truth. About a month ago, I started to repeat my old pattern again, this time instead of being frustrated, I just laughed out loud. When my friend said, “you got back on the train again didn’t you?” I didn’t answer. I saw myself standing on the train platform — but I didn’t know for sure.
Today I have the answer. I blew up the train (mentally of course). I know now that I finally unlearned my previous “wrong” behavior. It may now take me a few times to own the “right” one, but the most important thing I got out of this whole experience is that just saying I’m going to pursue love isn’t going to work. First I have to figure out what is my fear-driven behavior– eliminate it — and then then accept a love-filled life.