I remember the moment, as a child, when I realized that no one saw the world exactly as I did. No one else but me could occupy the universe in the exact same physical space. I was my own self-contained universe, formed and fueled by the wind hitting no one's arms exactly as they did mine, light entering my eyes from a perspective unique to me alone. It was an overwhelming awareness.
So I began to understand why human beings find it so hard to agree: when you get down to it, we all base our decisions on a different set of facts. As I sit in this chair at the coffee shop, I have no way of knowing that the boy at the counter is experiencing the pain of the formation of a lifelong scar. His father, through the filter of my own experience, seems to be engaged in harmless parental scolding. Or: wait, is she just moving on, or is this a betrayal? Or: locker-room talk, or horrifying misogyny? The answers can be completely different and completely true to both perpetrator and observer. And even if one answer is the right one, and the other so completely wrong—as is often the case—we get nowhere by insisting that our side is right. The only solution, I'm slowly beginning to understand, is to try to force ourselves through painful, narrow crevices into the utterly alien place of the other.