Post # 244       SEEING, OR BELIEVING

Man’s vision which normally involves his seeing an object with both eyes (binocular vision) is productive of two separate, slightly different images, transmitted from each eye, separately, for interpretation by the appropriately specialized area of the brain. The slightly variant images are of vital importance, in that they afford to the viewer, depth perception, a sense of distance to the object in view, and the direction and speed of its movement.

The complement of a pair of binoculars, [two small, attached telescopes] enables viewing the desired object with an optical boost which enables a closer and better view. An alternate viewing device, the monocular, [single, small telescope] will also magnify the object, but with limitations. Unlike the binoculars, it cannot convey depth of field, distance nor direction and speed of movement. These two optical devices are the selected metaphors du jour, for contrasts in human nature, and the varying degrees of human perception and consequent understanding.

We have often written concerning the intimate and important subject of (what we have elected to call) our periodic life-long private conversation with ourselves. It is to be admitted, in fairness, that one’s personal, long-term observations and feelings regarding certain subjects, do have some impact upon his translation of received visual experiences. Accordingly, we all see images, organized for us by our brain, in a somewhat subjective manner [our perception] often, with some degree of variance from other viewers. To be sure, such subjective perceptions cannot stray too far from mainstream perceptions considered to be within societally acceptable limits, lest one be adjudged a deviant, and consequently, unacceptable as a continuing member of that society.  We each may see the color red somewhat differently, nevertheless, everyone is legally obliged to stop at a “red light”.

To further pursue our optical metaphor, we are aware of too many American citizens who see (by choice or inability) with at most, monocular vision, lacking any interest in the enhancement of their own life, or participation in the welfare of our nation; evincing little depth of perception, and reductively blind to the responsibilities of modern living. In a democracy, this imposes onerous and unfair challenges and  burdens on the (binocular) people, who affirmatively subscribe to the tenets and manifest obligations inherent in personal growth and responsible citizenship.

We have often cited the pragmatically wise instruction of Thomas Jefferson that, for a democracy to be successful, it must have an informed (binocular*) and literate society. Our Founders envisioned a democratic republic where divergent points of view were to be tolerantly and intelligently debated among its citizens, so that a responsive government would, indeed be,“by and for the people”.

In a much earlier, elegiac post, “The Death of Civic Amity,” we sadly observed that, contrary to the intentions and prophesy of our (optimistic) founding fathers, citizens of divergent opinions have refrained from engagement in constructive, neighborly exchanges and debates; but have, instead, chose to develop insular groups, internally united in opinion, whose relations with other like groups of differing opinions, may be characterized as bordering upon cold war hatred. Many of these insular people would appear to be monocular adherents to ignorant and reductionist dogmas; others may be independently monocular. A clear and illustrative result is the shocking election of the current leader of our nation, a disturbing embarrassment and a real danger to many monocular, as well as binocular, people, at home and abroad.

The only conceivable antidote is to return the nation once more, to a nation containing a democratically decisive number of literate and informed citizens; perhaps through a combination of better public educational, as well as individual self- improvement programs. The achievement of such aspiration will certainly be difficult; but failure to do so, as soon as possible, will likely result in the continuance of the present worrisome state of our naton, one that no reasonable person would aesthetically desire to magnify and examine, up close.




*Not known to be included in any T.J. writings or attributed statements.

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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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