“We Thought…”

In the gray cloudy Saturday morning, I sit down with Elliot Ng, and other friends in Meeting Place: Starbucks at Jinyan Road, Pudong for some free chat. For some reason, we talked about contrast of people’s belief and the reality of this world.

“We Can Change”

To better understand the different, I found by adding “We Think …” to whatever statement twist the meaning a lot. Even more interestingly, adding “We thought …” to any statement is even more clear about the difference.

We talked about Obama’s slogan: “We can Change.” By adding “We Think”, it becomes

We think we can Change

By adding “We thought”, it becomes

We thought we can change

(No offense at all. I am not joking about the slogan itself at all. Using it is just because it is so famous and widely spread out.)

The idea is, by adding something like that helps us to really understand the difference between what we believe and the reality, and face the fact that we don’t want to admit: What we think is not always what the reality is.

“Is this what they told you?”

Another interesting story is about how to distinguish what we were told and the reality.

Long time ago, when our close friend Clair left Shanghai for a small town in France to join the nuclear power station, we had a dinner to say good bye to her. Naturally, we worried about the safety to work in a nuclear station.

We asked: “Is it safe there?”

Clair answered with full confidence: “No worry at all. The radiation level in the nuclear plant is less than 1% of a normal X-ray check. Blah blah…”

Someone looked at her with full sympathy and asked: “Is this what they told you?

Pretty embarrassingly, Clair admitted that this was what she was told…

I am not saying nuclear plant is not safe at all. The point is, sometimes, by asking “Is this what we were told?” to many questions helps us to understand the difference between the information we get, and the difference of the reality. Although many times, the two fit each other, most of the time, they don’t, at least not in full.

Be Sensitive to What We Think, and What We Were Told

What we think comes from what we see, and what we were told. What we see or touch or smell is also just what we were shown (by people. or by the nature). Be careful to use our perception and the reality.

11 thoughts on ““We Thought…”

  1. elliottng

    I need to write a post about our conversation because I got so many different things out of it that it would be an interesting “blind men and the elephant” experience. The origin of this theme of “be careful about your perception and your reality” is really from my recent experience of the financial crisis and the sense that not everything that we are told is true. I feel like I have become more cynical or skeptical and I think the American people are too. We Americans are facing our own naivete and “innocent trust” in institutions and in some ways this is converging with how Chinese people view their own government and media…with healthy skepticism.

    Its a blessing to be able to share ideas and reconnect Jian Shuo. Thanks!

  2. Carroll

    This is a very interesting perspective, Jian Shuo, especially since you have always made very clear the point that your blog represents only your own personal observations, not what you see and hear on “the news” or from other people. Because of this, and because I know you personally now, and trust you, everything I “know” about Shanghai is based on your thoughts and writing. I’ve never been there myself, so have no basis to either dispute or confirm your opinions. So much of our information about other parts of the world comes from journalists, and now bloggers. I must be careful in the future to modify my comments about places I have never been by saying “I think…” or “I’ve been told…” Maybe someday I will be lucky enough to go see for myself, and then I can really say “I know…”

  3. rwm

    Carroll,

    Even after seeing for yourself – you will still only be able to say “I think…” ??

    :-)

  4. Jian Shuo Wang

    @Carroll, really look forward to your visit to Shanghai – you should definitely come, and I will be very happy to show you around.

    @rwm, exactly. Whatever we see, it is just our perception of the small part of the whole world.

  5. TY

    It is a very great opinion about the perception of the world.No, it is not just about the world. It is also used to the perception of life. We can’t stand above the whole world to observe the things. We should put the “I think… ” before the conclusions which came from others to make sure if they are what they are?

  6. Carroll

    rwm, you are right! I’ve been happily married to a wonderful man for over 40 years, but can I truly say I “know” him? No more than he knows what’s really going on inside *my* head. Even when I look in the mirror, sometimes I surprise my own self! I *think* I might know what I would do if…but until that “if” really happens, there’s just no knowing.

  7. eq2 plat

    “Be careful to use our perception and the reality.” I certainly believe on this, we should scrutinize things first before we make judgments..don’t be such a gullible.

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