- Politics and Social Issues
Perspective is at Least Ninety-Nine Percent of Our Reality
Our reality is shaped by how we see it.
In Ann Rule’s, Everything She Ever Wanted, her main character, Pat Allanson defines perspective as being paramount in terms of getting people to do what you want. Pat Allanson, who was an expert manipulator used people’s perceptions of reality to her advantage, and for a while managed to play everyone like a well played violin. She even managed to get away with murder. When Pat Allanson was interviewed by the authorities, she credits perception as being the key to her cunning strategies. What is perception? How does it affect all of us?
Alexandre Dumas was noted for quoting the following on perception: ‘There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.’ Perception varies from one person to another. Here’s a quote by Dom Helder Camara that shows how public opinion shapes our perception: ‘When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” The following quote by Anais Nin truly defines the meaning of perception as being subjective rather than objective. “We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are.”
Reality and perception are two very different things. Although, people can only understand reality through their own perception of it. That unfortunately, is why communication is often hindered, and disagreement is the inevitable consequence of how reality is often perceived, and communicated from one person to another. Our experiences, present circumstances, personal beliefs, external influences, and even our moods are major contributors to our perception reality. Since this is true for everyone, it makes for a very complicated world.
Our perspective shapes the way we react to events. A great example of how perception works is gasoline prices. Back in the seventies it was considered an outrage when gasoline prices hit the one dollar mark. People were in shock. Then the eighties went by and people got used to the one dollar mark. Over the nineties gas even went up to the one dollar and half mark and people got used to OPEC's ups and down. Then came the new millennium and in the year 2004 gas hit a new record high of two dollars. People again where in a state of shock. Over next few years gas went up to almost three dollars. People got used to the ups and downs as they had in previous years. Suddenly in 2008, due to the up and downs in the stock market, gas prices started to escalate rapidly, almost weekly. People started to get really scared. Then suddenly in the fall of 2008 the stock market plummeted and gas prices fell dramatically, they hit a low of one dollar and thirty-something by the beginning of 2009. We are now in 2010 and gas prices are starting to creep up to the three dollar mark, yet people are remarkably calmer than in 2008. Why is this? Perception, that is why. We have been conditioned to accept what was once considered intolerable by most Americans back at the beginning of the millennium.
We are a lot more accepting of what was deemed unfair in the not so recent past. This could account for the loss in quality in the lives of many. We have been conditioned to accept unfairness as a normal part of life. By saying this, I’m not implying that life is fair or for us to start living in a dream world. Life is unfair more often than not. What I am saying is that if we keep accepting the declining quality of our lives as fair, where are we headed? As Americans we need to start looking around, and not let complacency take its toll. Most changes in history that have benefited mankind greatly came at a great cost. People, who changed history were not complacent, they were the movers and the shakers who made things happen. Are we still a nation of movers and shakers or are we just sheep?
I would like to leave you with this thought. What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly. The quote on perception by Lao-tzu, shows that even though, we may have entered into an era of hopelessness, there is still hope. We can hope on a new beginning, and become the butterfly. Therefore we must choose to be proactive if we want change for the better. As Johann Kaspar Lavater once quoted: There are three classes of men; the retrograde, the stationary and the progressive. Which type are you depends on your perception of yourself . Perception in a very real way, it shapes our reality.