July 2020 Thought For The Month - Being Human – Connections
When I started to prepare for this, I just waited for a thought to come. Nothing happened. I tried find out where my thoughts come from – my brain.
Bit of research. Brain: consists of nerve cells, called neurons. 100 billion of them (we're getting used to thinking in billions) (15 times the human population of this planet, imagine the cosmos from the perspective of a neuron). It's the connections between these neurons (another number even harder to imagine), that are central to the processes of the brain. This is described as 'electrical activity, the release of chemical messengers, changes in cell contacts and alterations in the activity of nerve cells'. I don't know about you, but I have no success in controlling these chemical messengers.
I find that the more I use my brain, (the more different connections I form and use), the better my brain works. I'm usually suspicious of analogies, but tried to compare this, with how I connect with other people.
I am drawn to people who share my worldview, creating a bit of a 'bubble'. My opinions, formed as they are from processes, over which I have no ultimate control, are vindicated. I may put ideas into my memory, to make me look clever in a future discussion. I buy the newspaper, closest to my own views. On social media, the algorithm anticipates what appeals to me from previous behaviour. All takes me down the same well-worn path, with few really new connections.
I thought how different it would be, talking with people who don't share my view. Or better still listening. (Nobody ever learned anything from listening to their own voice). I determine to buy different publications each week, The Observer, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Jewish Chronicle. My views should become resilient the more they are examined. They might even change, in the light of new evidence.
Like my brain, the more different connections I make, the better I work.
By Gordon Agnew