Do you remember Mr. Magoo?
Magoo says ” I should have known your type…” as he yells at himself in the mirror. He is angry for all of the things that were done to him and he was the cause.
“Don’t waste your time and money..”
Magoo wanted to get dance lessons as he misread a letter in the mail. He was thinking that he was invited to a dance when he read an advertisement for something totally unrelated. He was yelling about the mess he got himself into and was advising others that weren’t there not to waste their time or money on the dance lessons. After all, the place he was in was run” like a gym.” In other episodes, there were times that Magoo would run aimlessly into something that was not harmful. Most of the time he would get himself into a situation where he affected others. That is the point of the blog today.
Simply complex but simple.
I picked up a habit of carrying a whiteboard marker with me. By chance you may have a whiteboard that I should write on and muddy. The circles and lines that connect them are all simple thoughts. I draw the line from here to there and tag it to show what the line means. As the lines and circles start to grow and I am standing in front of the board, I am telling a story. If you aren’t there from the beginning and you walk in towards the end, the board looks to be full of lines and circles and words written between. It is impressive and complicated looking. The truth is that it isn’t complicated. It is just the whole story without all of the words all smashed together in a frame. It is not meant to be understood without me. Unless there was a video taken, you would be lost and you may wonder.
If you were to walk into the room and look at the writing on the wall, you would automatically take what I have written and frame it. You would apply meaning in areas where there wasn’t any or you would rationalize the connections and relationships based on your perception.
In a sense, we all have some Magoo like tendencies.
The Magoo Problem
We frame the world actively at every moment and sew together a picture based on what we believe we see. David Eagleman in his book “Incognito” pointed out that our brains are locked into a fully enclosed and dark space. That is the physical case, but we see or perceive light. It is manufactured by our input, our sensors.
That is our world. We think that things are something when they may or may not be. We have the unique understanding of the world from our perspective. The problem is that our perspective if skewed too far can cross boundaries and have unintended consequences. That is why it is important to understand “intent.” Who could be mad at old Magoo? He was just trying to learn how to dance? In this story, he wound up destroying the gym.
The thinking person rationalizes everything to make sense of it. We are forced to simplify the complex. The complex as we see it, may become the world of Magoo.
We are wired for the world. We are wired to frame and create context and we are also wired to inter-relate to others. Daniel Goleman writes about it in his Social Intelligence book and other places.
The first example Goleman gives of social intelligence is that of a group of American soldiers in Iraq paying a visit to a cleric to enlist his aid in distributing relief supplies. The local populace feared the well-armed soldiers. They were afraid they were going to arrest their cleric or profane their mosque. A mob quickly surrounded the soldiers. One can imagine what would have happened should a soldier, threatened by a gesture, shot off a gun.
No one got shot and no one got hurt. In fact, the mob encounter ended amicably due, Goleman says, to the social intelligence of Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hughes, who gauged the myriad social factors involved in record time and implemented a series of steps designed to defuse the situation: he ordered his men to kneel on one knee, point their weapons at the ground, and—most importantly—smile. Since a smile is a universal expression of friendliness, the confused Iraqi people began to smile back. The reverential posture and the signal that the weapons were not to be used also reassured them. Some of the now peaceably departing Iraqis even dared to pat the soldiers on the back. What could have been an ugly incident of resounding personal and international repercussions turned into a positive one because of the leader’s instinctive social intelligence.
It is a confusing world we live in. We seem to stumble like the baby in the construction lot. Somehow we make our way from girder to girder or we don’t. When we don’t make it or we are victims of some event we are conflicted. It seems to be the cause of so many problems that we have. We can’t smile our way out of some of these things but we are naturally inclined to be connected and that is a good thing. Oh, where was I going?
I just watched him again this morning. I initially had plans on writing about something else. Maybe I just stumbled into Magoo? He first appears in Ragtime Bear 1949. He couldn’t see a thing and was pretty angry. His perception of the world was always very far from what we see around him. He only wanted “Peace and quiet, a man needs his rest.” In 1956 Puddle jumper he bought a full-out electric car. It is funny how he believed that the electric car was the better machine to drive. How easy it is to think that Magoo has it wrong. Magoo isn’t just nearsighted, he is perceptually mis-aligned. His view of the world creates confusion, anger, cross talk, lack of clarity, and seemingly made him a bit crazy to us. Although that is what comes across, Magoo is forward thinking and has some old wisdom, he believes that his perspective of the world is the world and that others around him see it as he does and if they don’t, he instructs them accordingly.
What he is missing is the alignment to others.
The short of it
How Magoo relates to you. We all see the world through our own eyes and though it may be obvious to us, the things we see and believe may be wrong. If we consider that we are in some ways like Magoo; blind to things that we believe we see. This may be a step in opening ourselves to other possibilities. If we can manage and have the patience, it is possible for us to learn and teach. In other words, Magoo didn’t always have it wrong. After all, he loved the electric car in 1956 and we are just a few short years behind him. He didn’t always have it right either and his mis-perceptions of the world caused devastation in a lot of episodes. It takes a balance of ideas, knowledge, and patience and the ability to recognize that we individually may be wrong and further that we can only learn that we are wrong though discussion , open dialog and empathy. If we open ourselves to this, we may wind up being wrong together or right together, regardless maybe it would lead to more happiness.
These are some of my thoughts this Sunday morning. Cheers