Civilisation as a concept has been around for centuries. The only thing is, we continually seek to reinvent it in ways that keep bringing us back to where we once were. How often do we nod or shake our heads when reading quotes and phrases from times gone by and lament at the prudent direction of them whilst simultaneously wondering why we don’t abide them now?
One of these quotes that always comes to mind is one by the Roman General, Marcus Aurelius.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Just imagine for a moment if we took this concept on through life. My very first thought is that there would have to be so much less conflict. So much less angst. So much less worry or anxiety. So much less depression. Mental Illness could be viewed with much greater clarity by the general populace than it is now. Those suffering from anxiety or depression would have signposts that could help them manage the moments of doubt, of uncertainty, of fear.
Opinions and Perspectives are simply that. Not fact and not truth. Given this presumption, though, society’s common thinking is that perception or perspective is truth. Is fact. Each and every one of our world’s views’ provides us with a frame of reference from which we develop these perceptions, these ‘truths’. What we see, hear, smell, touch, taste and feel (don’t forget the sixth sense) construct our own opinions and perceptions. They are our warm security blankets.
As witnesses, the facts and truths of the witnessed events are filtered, censored even, by our own opinions. Our own perspectives. This gives rise to alternative facts (as discussed in my recent post). In our eyes, we are not wrong, we are not mistaken, regardless of the actuality because we believe our opinions, we believe our perspectives and pity help anyone who tries to change our minds!
But our own opinions and perspectives are quickly dissolved when looking at the work of Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972). His works showed how easily our minds are fooled into believing one thing and then quickly believing another. Our taste buds have been fooled by chemists into believing we are tasting a particular food over another. Not to mention the likes of Harry Houdini, David Copperfield or Constantino who mesmerise and fool us with their magic.
It is all opinion. It is all perspective. We need to become resolute to this to view in our constantly changing world to avoid the dystopic visions of Orwell and his contemporaries. We need to be creative with our thought. Innovative with our ideas. Accepting our previously held world views because of previously held opinions and perspectives will only ever give us our truth and our facts. It will not provide us reality.
Listen intently. Read widely. Discuss issues openly. Challenge relentlessly. Respect fearlessly. Only then will fact outweigh opinion. Only then will truth triumph over perspective.