In the months following my retirement from the US military, I discovered that re-entry into the civilian world would require me to unlearn, re-learn, and broaden my understanding of diverse issues. As someone who always perceived myself to be objective and logical, this was a life-changing epiphany.
One word that stuck with me throughout that season was ‘unfettered.’ The reason for this wasn’t clear to me initially but as I explored the subject and found different applications for it, I realized that ‘unfettered’ should be a cornerstone of our identity.
‘Unfettered’ is an adjective derived from the old English word ‘Fetor’ which means ‘a chain or shackle for the feet.’ When you create a mental image based on this, it makes more sense to define ‘unfettered’ as unchained, unrestrained, and uninhibited.
Impressed by my interest in unearthing the truth about different ‘givens’, facts, dogmas, a friend of mine rightly identified my interest as a sign of growth. According to him, this very act serves as the bedrock for making better decisions and choices.
At this stage of my journey, I have learned to make peace with the fact that my views cannot be absolute. As long as my opinions will always be shaped by my experiences (which are subjective by nature), it will be very disingenuous for me to claim that my views are the most objectives. A more startling truth I have discovered is that I have not been as tolerant as I believed myself to be. Before now, I used to believe that I had a gift for listening to other people’s perspective but I now realize that I was mostly listening for the sake of giving a response.
Shifting the spotlight from myself, I zeroed in on understanding why we see things differently. During my studies, I found interesting graphics that depicted people viewing issues from different angles. One thing I learned was that until I deliberately engaged in perspective-driven conversations, I will continue to be misguided and misinformed by the lenses which have been handed to me by various institutions in the society – religion, education, culture, politics, etc.
To properly explain this, I will do a quick recap of my formative years. I was born to a conservative family that strongly believed in Christian values. Though we identified with a protestant church, we were more orthodox in our beliefs. By default, my beliefs and stance on social issues were strict and absolute. Sadly, I did not realize early enough that most of what I was taught to believe were misinterpretations of what was written in the bible.
Later in life, conversations with people who had ‘other’ perspectives started to birth unsettling questions that made me realize that all I had was a one-sided perspective. Just before you conclude that this ‘experience’ is limited to just religion, take a moment to reflect on what we call ‘education’ today.
While I strongly support educational endeavors and appreciate the fact that education equips us to see the world differently, I am not quick to dismiss the fact that we run the risk of assuming that everything education serves us is absolute.
These institutions – religious, educational, political, and social, and culture – have restrained us from training our minds to think multi-dimensionally. Little wonder why we have little or no drive to pursue greater levels of understanding and seek solutions that will transform our society.
I propose that it is high time we all became unfettered by choosing to listen to people who have different perspectives and have created solutions to challenges that have long plagued our society. I have been privy to listen to people from different parts of the world deliberate on the same issue. To say the least, I was surprised by the different approaches to solving problems and the fact that no application was inferior to the other.
When we become unfettered in our thought processes and reasoning, we have a better understanding of issues and work better at solving them. We will also break free from the molds that society has long caged us in and start seeing beyond the linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and social divides.
Isn’t it surprising how we watch our world fall apart but choose to aggressively defend our positions on different issues which stems from us identifying as conservatives, liberals, libertarians, etc.? Isn’t it sad that we would defend our opinions to death rather than admit their weak points and maximize their strengths?
We need to come to the understanding that it is okay for us to disagree with others but still have a shared understanding of an issue. A shared understanding is a vital tool for driving change. However, if we choose to aggressively defend our stance, we would end up fighting ourselves and leaving the issue unresolved.
The Unfettered Podcast is the result of my twelve- month-long-journey to understanding why we disagree and how our differences can unite, rather than divide us. I believe that no two experiences are the same. Even when we think on the same wavelength, we will always end up with different thinking patterns.
This is why every episode is an unfiltered narration of the failures, losses, successes, and triumphs that characterize the life of industry leaders and celebrated heroes. Every joy, tears, fears, and trepidation each guest has ever experienced will be channeled to give us a better understanding of our world. More importantly, they are to ignite transformative thought processes that will prompt us to take actionable steps to create the world we desire.
We can create a world that works. We just need to get UNFETTERED!