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Mental Models.

Each of us models reality in our brain. Since each of us experiences reality differently through our senses and our assumptions, our model of reality will differ from all others. Coping with these differences requires, first, that we acknowledge how and why differences exist: that no one lives the life of another, that reality for one is never fully reality for another. But, overlaps do exist through common experience, communication, and empathy. We can train our senses to accommodate others' realities. Society has standards and procedures for establishing shared views – facts –and common goals – through politics. Success in political life will be our reward for paying attention to assumptions, facts, and goals.

Kahneman in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow wrote, "What You See Is All There Is." This concept alerts me to the existence of reality of which I know nothing. It is humbling in the extreme. We cannot know what we have not seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. Our model of reality is always incomplete. "Now we see as through a glass darkly," per the Bible. Until we acknowledge our own limitations, we cannot truly respect and honor the experience of others. Understanding this concept is essential to finding reasoned approaches to politics because, as Harold and Margaret Sprout have taught us, we act in the world we perceive but the world pays us back in its own terms.

Further our mental model is shaped by a set of lenses through which we filter reality so that it doesn't overwhelm us with diversity. Some of us use filters that accept more diversity than others. Some focus more on details and stay close to sensory input. Others focus more on ideas and use details merely to adjust an idea of reality. And we use many types of filters, including emotions. (We discuss filters more in the section on Worldviews.)

Differences in our mental models can make it very hard to comprehend someone else's point of view. But it is not helpful to just cast it and them aside as irrational or plain wrong. Ask questions. Separate assumption from fact, attitude from opinion. Try to see how they arrive at their viewpoint. Share how you see things and why. Maybe you will learn something and maybe they will too.