I love this image because one of the Internet’s favorite ways of insulting people is through some version of “You live in a bubble.” The obvious insinuation is, Your world is small; therefore your thoughts and ideas are small (unlike mine). I watched one such interaction unfold on Twitter this morning. Jonah Goldberg, the senior editor of the conservative magazine National Review, tweeted the link to his latest column (which I found to be a thoughtful analysis), and a reader responded with a flurry of derogatory tweets, including, “[the] only voices of anger are disgruntled antiTrump right and apoplectic AltLeft.” Jonah then quoted the above tweet and commented, “Things you say when you’re in a bubble, for $1,000.” Not to be outdone, the reader retorted, “lol said the ever erudite elitist writer in his glass bubble hahahahahaha.”
It’s never been more (dys)fun(ctional) to spar with our ideological opponents.
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.1
Anyone who is not omnipresent and omniscient like God necessarily lives in a bubble. In fact, existing as finite, created beings dependent on an omniscient God is an essential aspect of being human. “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6) “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5)
Our beliefs and opinions are nurtured in part by our willingness/unwillingness to grow and expand, making some “bubbles” bigger than others; but ultimately, they’re limited by, well, the limits of our existence. You live, I live, we all live in bubbles. Embracing the inescapable reality of these limitations should help us realize that we are all dependent on each other – especially those of other tribes – in order for the collective to keep growing in knowledge and understanding of the world we all share. There’s nothing negotiable about our interdependence. It simply is. That’s why political and tribal conflicts cause so much distress. The only thing that’s negotiable is our willingness to perceive, accept, and lean into it in a way that will bring life instead of death.
You live, I live, we all live in bubbles. Go ye therefore into the world, saying to all, “I’ll tell you about mine if you tell me about yours.”