“Rational thoughts never drive people’s creativity the way emotions do.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson1
Time and again one hears: “To find truth, we must be nothing but objective.” These words of warning take us back to remembering how emotions – time and again – have altered our perception; having us see things distorted, far – sometimes even dangerously different – from what they in fact are.
“One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
But, does this memorable guidance mean that all emotions are slanted and – as a consequence – illogical and untrustworthy? Do they customarily limit us from finding that which is true? Or could these two latter interpretations be false assumptions?
Time and again emotions have led us to look into an issue more thoroughly. As – for instance – when we feel uncertain and a strong feeling of doubt assaults us. Disregarding, ignoring or overlooking an emotion would not necessarily come to be more judicious than examining why we feel what we feel toward something in particular. “Ourself, behind ourself concealed, Should startle most; Assassin, hid in our apartment, Be horror’s least.”3
One important thing is to keep within us the capacity to imagine and extract guidelines and evidence from our emotions. The fact that emotions are fallible does not mean that we cannot put our trust in them. We are not on one side a robot and another side a soul. When we are going to cross a street, we don’t make a geometrical or mathematical study of it, we cross it following our guided instinct. The fact that a light is red doesn’t mean that all the cars will stop, but we trust they will, based on our inductive experience. We usually take precautions but sometimes we act automatically: “If the light is red, we can cross the street.”
But, let’s think about when someone we don’t know too well – but nonetheless have heard about – says out loud something like: “We have to get rid of the fill in the blank. They are bad people, responsible for much of the decadence going on around us.”4 Our immediate reaction nowadays is to ask for the facts, search for the evidence.
Why? Because we can recognize how words like those stem from an emotional reaction and not a factual one. Because we acknowledge how emotions are the evidence within, yes, but are fallible. Because we want to be aware of and foretell why, how, where, when, and by whom, words like those could be uttered. “After the Holocaust, the survivors truly believed that when the ‘world’ saw what had happened to them, surely it would never happen again. But it did… There is much work to be done by all of us to make those words a reality.”5
1. big think. Neil deGrasse Tyson on His Books
2. Emily Dickinson. Time and Eternity LXIX.
4. Business Insider. Donald Trump just released an epic statement raging against Mexican immigrants and ‘disease’.
5. Newsweek. Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Reflect on Identity, Memory and Faith.