A Point of View © 1996
By Paul V. Montesino, PhD., MBA, ICCP.
To be one is to be many.
Christmas is a season to be merry and happy, hopeful, and not to be anxious. Bringing a baby into the world, whether the son of God or the son of humankind is a sign of optimism. But, of course, we know that these are anxious times. Trouble, political or otherwise, seems to flourish in the world. And in case you forget, the pings of the notifications from our smartphones will remind us of and bring us to date with the latest anxiety. Not a nice spirit to enjoy a Merry Christmas.
Part of the problem is that we have forgotten our humanity. Aristotle said, “Know Thyself.” He said that “Knowing ourselves is the beginning of all wisdom.” But the story is more complicated than that. To know yourself you must know who that “yourself” is. It has to do with the “I” and “We” moments that make us humans.
Imagine for a moment that you’ve lived your entire life without knowing what “I”, the first-person pronoun, means. Imagine as well that you are isolated and have never seen another human being and know what the “You” or “We” pronouns mean. If that were the case, your world would consist only of what you can see or touch, objects, animals, and even other “Is”, but not yourself. You go about your existence never questioning who you are, and what your thoughts mean.
But then one day there is a furious rainstorm and in its aftermath, you must move about avoiding countless water puddles created by the rain to avoid being drowned. As you wonder what they all mean, you approach one of the largest puddles and see a reflection of your face in that puddle. It is the first time you encounter yourself, your “I”. What does that mean, you wonder?
And then, out of nowhere, unexpectedly, appears another human being as ignorant as you are and approaches the same water puddle with a similar curiosity. And so do you. When you see both of your reflections on the puddle, both realize that the image of your newly met creature must mean that the other image on the puddle must be yours, your “I” and “Me”. Yes, it took the reflection of another to find yourself. At that point, you realize that before you can be a full “I” person, you must join others in a “We” relationship.
That’s the missing piece in our desire to get rid of all the causes of our anxiety. That’s what Christmas brings to the table.
So go forth, and approach the puddles of your life, but don’t try it alone. And have a Merry Christmas in the process.
And that’s my Point of View Today. So long.