Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Perception
(It's more than a kayak)

This isn't about kayaks. At least not exactly. It's about how we perceive things and one another. To begin, take a look at the masterful piece of art I've created through the miracle of PhotoShop. (Gorgeous, isn't it?) This one-of-a-kind and unnumbered work comes with a question. Answer it quickly with your first gut reaction. Is this a ramp with steps going up to the right or down from the right to the left?

Now, I can tell you that the vast majority of you (all 3 of you who have continued to read this far...but I digress) have answered that this is a set of stairs that goes up toward the right. If, however, you are multilingual, and your primary language happens to be a Semitic one, you will have said that the stairs starts at the right top and comes down. Why? Because most of you read English and do so from left to right. Consequently, you also "read" pictures from left to right. The opposite is true for those whose primary language is read right to left.

This is simple stuff and points out how our cultural backgrounds form our perceptions of one another. This simple phenomena can be further broken down into the components of our culture. Your religious beliefs or non beliefs will have a say in how you perceive my beliefs or non beliefs. Same for our mutual temperaments, style of dressing and, for that matter, life style. The thing is that in all these situations we tend to start with the premise that our (my) way is the right or, at least, the normal way. This can only result in perceiving one another as different, odd (well, that one may be true) and...here's where it becomes a problem...wrong.

More over, if you are different, odd and wrong, it takes just one simple step (call it bias) to conclude that you are dangerous, in which case I better not sit around and wait for you to discover the same about me and act out on it (Do unto others as they would do unto you. Just do it first).

Societies have experimented with segregation as a way of solving this problem (this only works when you keep the play boats at one end of the pool and the sea kayaks at the other). This, in turn, only led to isolation and re enforcement of the original premesises and fears. Call it prejudice.

It's a big ocean/lake/river out there, and it is filled with all sorts of plant and animal life that make it work. Kill off one species and others soon suffer. Dick around with the organisms and plants start to die or grow unchecked.

It's also a big world out there, and it is populated with all sorts of plant and animal life, not to mention minerals. Screw around with any of it and...well, Mother Nature will just stand for so much.

Padle safe...

DS

3 comments:

Ron said...

Good thoughts to start the day, well said.

JohnB said...

Hmmmm. First, I saw a kayak with big teeth, then I saw a saw blade. Where the hell did you come up with a ramp with steps running up or down, left or right?

Now your "dicking" around with our minds, Silbs (aka Dick/Richard).

Good one though--weren't we just talking about the introduction of the various species into Lake Michigan to control the population of one, and the one(s) introduced have now become a problem?

And, weren't we just talking about doing rescues in the southern areas where their are creatures just waiting to make you their lunch, or in some cases a mere snack? And, where I've always said that the objective of doing a rescue in such waters is to maintain your position on the food chain.

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

I thought I was inside a whale myself...