If Something that Far Out Really Happened, Don’t you Think We Would Have Told You About it?

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 who tries to ruin a reputation, the telling of a fantastic story to get attention, 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 trying 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 in the difference between perception and reality. Whether you are reading about health care, the Olympics, the recent firing of an entire high school staff in Rhode Island, or listening to the talking heads on TV or Radio, you have to believe that there is almost always an angle to the story. Just because it is someone’s perception does not mean it is reality!

One thought on “If Something that Far Out Really Happened, Don’t you Think We Would Have Told You About it?

  1. Don't gloss over the fact that schools often teach us points of view or have visual images that persuade in a subliminal way. Our history books were written by whom? Or chosen by whom? How many parents have sent their student off the a university, only to have a viewpoint taught which is completely opposite of what they have been brought up to believe. But do we raise and teach critical thinkers(ing)? There is a line in a broadway play that says …a rich many is a theif or a philanthropist…it depends upon which label is able to persist.

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