Quote of the Day:
It has been well said that we do not see things as they are, but as we are ourselves. Every man looks through the eyes of his prejudices, of his preconceived notions. Hence, it is the most difficult thing in the world to broaden a man so that he will realize truth as other men see it.
I picked up a new pair of progressive glasses the other day. I’m not crazy about them. I have to keep turning my head to look directly at what I’m reading because my periphery vision is blurry. No worries, my eye doctor tells me. After 7-10 days, I won’t need to turn my head in order to see clearly. It’s not that the blurriness will really go away, it’s that my brain will compensate for it and I won’t notice it anymore. In other words, my brain will effectively blind me to the blurriness that is present. The blurriness will become normalized, and I will no longer recognize it as such.
Spend a minute to let the magnitude of our brain’s capabilities soak in. It’s stunning. And it should frighten us just a little.
The day before I picked up my new glasses, I returned from an eight-day Loras service-learning trip to Haiti. Most of us who go to Haiti for any period of time have some difficulty returning to the U.S. Usually, I experience a period of depression, anger, and/or disgust upon re-entry. It isn’t necessarily that I don’t want to be back, it’s just that sometime between my leaving the U.S. and my return, my brain does its magical thing that allows me to adjust (as much as possible) to the beautiful people and culture of Haiti. The result is that when I return to America, all those things that my brain compensated for previously are now blurred by my experiences in Haiti. Basically, my lens has been reset. Upon returning from this trip, for example, I became more aware of our American addiction to material things, to social media, and our intense drive for outcomes combined with our inability to see that we often use people to get to those outcomes, as wonderful as we think those outcomes will be. And….what else am I not seeing? Depressing.
I don’t want my brain to compensate for or blind me to all this blurriness. Perhaps instead of being angry and depressed, I can find a way to blend these different perspectives. Might I now look at desired outcomes through a lens that prioritizes contemplation of the long-term impacts of our “seemingly” good intentions? It’s a start. I’m privileged to be on this ever-learning journey with all of you.