Blog # 166   PEACE AND PARALLAX (A Metaphor)

Since logic and reason are famously dedicated to the enhancement of perspective and enlightenment, it is understandable that many words related to sight provide such areas ample resource for use as metaphor. Opaqueness and lack of vision, in that metaphoric sense, would presage an unfulfilling life, one typified by stagnation, ignorance and sterile insularity.

An interesting and useful such metaphor is the optic word, “parallax.” The word describes the illusion of a difference in location, or position of a viewed object, caused by the observer’s change of physical position. Seen from alternative angles, the observed object seems to have shifted (ex. the appearance of travelling in an opposite direction than the countryside when you are a passenger in a train or bus, or when looking at an object, one eye at a time.) To preface our metaphoric theme, seeing an object with both eyes at the same time furnishes the necessary depth of field and, accordingly, an accurate picture.

We have often written in praise of man’s capacity for enlargement of his understanding and his laudable efforts at life enhancement, such goals having intrinsic values far above the market price of any total accumulation of material assets. The attainment of life’s potential for depth and insight is inarguably the greatest single ambition and conceivably, the most rewarding enterprise.

The insight and ability to see and understand people of other traditions and differing belief systems, from an alternate point of reference, is to be mindful of our (metaphorical) parallax  phenomenon  and constitutes a valid exercise of reason and  understanding. The converse, an unfocused evaluation of others, solely from the limited angle of one’s own cultural standards, is to distort the viewed object and possibly portray a distorted sense of rectitude and acceptability of one’s group and a distain for others.

In some cases, a distorted picture may be occasioned by an unfortunate lack of sufficient exposure to other traditions and ways of life; a short-sightedness, or lack of awareness of our parallax factor, not sighting from an objective (alternate) point of view. In others, unfortunately, it is a selective ignorance, an inclination or desire to see other folkways with “only one eye” and publicly express criticism and intolerant dogma based on a lack of full and corrective vision. Like fish, which have no concept of water, they are entirely lacking in perspective beyond their familiar, limited environment.

To continue with our selected metaphor, every rational  person should strive to (simultaneously) open both eyes and observe, with proper depth of vision, mankind’s acceptably wide range of societal variation; some of which is historical or cultural, and some, observably necessitated  by specific environmental nuance. When we (at last) have all progressed to the point where we fairly and rationally focus on other lifestyles and belief systems, not from an ethnocentric vision, but from additional perspectives and alternate points of view, we will at long last have truly set the scene for world peace.



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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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