I've been watching Game of Thrones lately, and observing the different factions rally troops behind a cause with symbols, words, rituals, and hierarchy lets me see the Machiavellian conditioning at play:
It's a show, based on a book, about a fantasy world, in one author's mind.
It lets you see from an objective standpoint the symbols of pride, power, and influence we hold so dearly due to the conditioning of our own culture:
How are our flags different from the GoT banners? How are our rituals and salutes different from the indoctrination in the show? How are our slogans different from the oaths taken by the characters?
It seems that with politics, religion, and money, things quickly get complicated because it's difficult to look at ourselves from an external lens. It's hard to be aware and empathetic when we are directly involved.
One of my favorite quotes is by Upton Sinclair:
"It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
This can either be viewed as a judgment to blame someone for not understanding something, which does little except outsource ownership of the situation.
Or the quote can be used as an observation to help yourself or others become aware of their underlying motivations.
Once you're aware, you can make more informed decisions. That's situational awareness in action.
With this awareness mindset, you tune into the carefully crafted language in media, politics, and religion meant to evoke a certain sentiment, or agenda. You pay attention to the messaging that overlays the root of the problem. You see the conditioning behind the culture.
You see through what is being said to the true intention that lies underneath.
This process invariably starts with questioning what you see:
When you travel, you think of these questions naturally, opening up a novel world, and breaking down what you knew before.
You can also practice this where you live in everyday situations:
You're building an "awareness" muscle that allows you to step out of a situation and look from an observer standpoint at what is happening. You're still involved and connected, in a much more alert and inquisitive way.
As you practice awareness in real-life scenarios, you'll notice being more situationally aware in general.
What are ways you use to objectively observe a situation? How do keep an eye out for blind spots? Please share your thoughts via email. I'm curious about your experiences.