Ever since I can think, I was searching for the truth. Perhaps this is why I got really good at observing and even better at listening, because I grew up in a world where adults thought children should be seen rather than heard and I got a liking to listen to the stories people told each other – or sometimes just themselves – and in my mind I tried to condense all these stories to their essence and find the one truth.
It took me a while to realize that there isn’t something as one truth. Sometimes we are so convinced that we are right about a topic – usually the one we are very passionate about – that we have difficulty respecting that not everyone else agrees on that, or not even understands what we mean.
There’s an interesting quote by Paul John Rosch, chairman of the board of the American Institute of Stress, clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College, and honorary vice president of the International Stress Management Association:
“There is an unfortunate tendency to believe that just because you have given something a name, that somehow you have defined it – or worse, that everyone will understand what it means. Stress is a good example; after almost fifty years in the field, I can assure you that attempting to define or explain stress to a scientist’s satisfaction is like trying to nail a piece of jello to a tree. Hans Selye, who coined the term stress as it is currently used and struggled with this problem his entire life, was fond of pointing out that everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.”
Especially as a child, whenever I made a new discovery I had to share my finds with the people around me, but usually I got so excited that I talked too fast and my words came out in summersaults and no one could understand what I had to say. (Perhaps that is one of the reasons I started writing, because that way I have to think first and come up with a structure and a concept to articulate myself. Although, maybe the reason I write is simply to process so that I can make sense of my discoveries myself…)
In the year 2000 I not only moved to a different continent and had to learn to articulate myself in a foreign language (English), I also had the privilege of going to Heaven in a near-death experience and then to come back. I discovered, that without being attached to our limited body and brain, we still have full function of our senses and for once we are able to comprehend more than ever possible in human form. However, God has a way to humble people. As soon as I returned into my body, it seems that a veil came down and covered my understanding. Although I knew more than I ever thought was possible, I couldn’t put it in words, worse, I couldn’t access information I knew I had learned earlier e.g. in my university years – similar to someone who knows of the content in a drawer, but isn’t able to get it out because the drawer is stuck.
In my anthropology courses in university I first heard of Robin Dunbar, but not until later of his number “150.” This number refers to the cognitive limit to people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. If you look at social media, you will easily see that if you have 150 “friends” or more on Facebook, chances are you have not the faintest idea who they all are or can follow what each of them is doing/posting on a regular basis. Dunbar wasn’t talking about Facebook of course, he meant the relationship in which each person knows who every other person is and how each person relates to every other person.
Approximately 150 was the basic unit size of the Roman army, it is the estimated sizes of a Neolithic farming village, as well as the splitting point of Hutterite settlements – or more familiar in the region I live, the Mennonite communities. Dunbar claims, 150 would be the ideal size of a company or company division. Numerous studies support his theory; consequently a group of people larger than this number would require rules and regulations to maintain a stable cooperation.
When I read Eileen Day McKusick’s book, Tuning the Human Biofeld, I wasn’t surprised that she connects Dunbar’s theory of the number 150 with the at first puzzling yet freeing quote by Dr. Johan Boswinkel, “I believe that truth has 144 sides.”
Wow. Just let this sink in! – Instead of arguing with your spouse or colleague about an issue, listen to his/her viewpoint. Chances are that what we perceive as the truth is in fact just a facet of the truth and we need other people’s perspective to understand it completely. Could it be that we need the ~ 150 people we maintain a stable relationship with to get to the ground of things?