Reminders: Perception vs. Reality
by Ardith Hoff
A school board was interviewing a person for a job as a high school science teacher. One of the board members asked, “Do you believe the earth is flat or do you believe it is round?” The candidate replied, “I can teach it flat, and I can teach it round.”
What the prospective science teacher knew is that when we stand on the earth, and look around, we perceive the earth as relatively flat. Yet, no matter how far we go, we know we will not suddenly fall off the edge because when we get to one horizon there is always another one in sight. When we wake up early, and see the sun rise, we perceive it as rising, even though it has been shown that it is actually the earth that is moving, not the sun. Perception is our response to what appears to happen. For us, perception is reality!
Even though we can intellectually conceive of something being different from what we seem to be experiencing. We tend to interpret things as they appear not always as they are. A quote from the Talmud puts it this way, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” If we are depressed, we tend to see the world in negative terms. If we are feeling optimistic, we tend to see the world as positive. The interesting thing is that we actually have a choice. We can choose how to interpret what is happening around us.
Political divides are a good example. If you watch TV news commentary on one side of an issue, you hear very well reasoned interpretations of events one way, but commentators on another network have equally well reasoned arguments on the other side. The truth is probably somewhere between, but we are being asked to choose. Each commentator passionately defends his or her point of view. Each of them wants to convince us that their perspective is correct. We would all do well to look at things from God’s point of view. We need to keep an open mind and ask His guidance. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5