Perception = Reality?

Current events are always full of items that are a veritable treasure trove of “teachable” concepts. Being a teacher of history, I always try to be mindful that history as it is written is often a set of human perceptions that are not always based on reality. For example, one could look at the history of World War II from two different perspectives. If one one reads an American account of the war in Europe to defeat the Axis alliance written shortly after the war and then reads a Russian account written at about the same time, they might conclude that they had just read about two different wars. Now, over time, the differences in the two stories of the war slowly become more similar or at least include each other’s perceptions on how the war was executed. Why? Because the relations between the two countries have changed? Probably. That and time has a way of finding an “average” of stories that is closer to the truth. O. K. Mr. Meister, what is your point, you might ask? Consider that very often human beings are acting in a way to persuade one another to believe one thing or another for various reasons. Whether that be on a personal basis between a group of friends or on a impersonal basis when a company shows you an ad trying to get you to do something, the same principles apply. The perception that is often supplied is not fully based in reality…..and from time to time we all fall for it. Whether it be a bully that tries to ruin a reputation, or a group that is try to exert power over another, they only show or talk about things from their perspective. The lesson here is that we must check the sources! One source is never enough to prove whether something is true or not. Check multiple sources, even when your friends or colleagues are tying to convince about someone or something. Humans are very emotional and sometimes those emotions get in the way of separating someone else’s perception and reality. Today’s current events provide a wonderful case student in perception vs. reality. Read closely some of the news or ads about the candidates running for president. Both campaigns are doing the best they can to shape the country’s perception of reality. Check your sources. Look for multiple sources and try to include varied points of view and try to draw you own conclusions. The bottom line is: think for yourself, try not to let emotions cloud your vision, and remember there are usually more than one way of looking at a situation.

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