Our Perception Of Reality Philosophy Essay
What is reality to us? Almost all of us believe in there being one reality which is free from all opinions. Something that just is. Something which is true, undisputable. We perceive this reality to be something which we cannot change in any way. The funny thing is that this reality may not really exist. The reason we think in one definite reality is that we only see our side of the story. Obviously there has to be one reality which is true and undisputable. However, spend a bit of time thinking and you will realize that you can never really grasp this reality. Even when you are part of an event you really do not know what is happening around you and why it is happening.
We, the people of today especially, have a very hard time of grasping reality. While reality may have been a bit illusive since forever things have changed considerably. There was a time when things were simple. Very simple. There was a time when bloodthirsty monarchs would call themselves bloodthirsty monarchs and not try to hide behind the cover of ‘authority’ or ‘just wars’. This was a time when people were openly racist and proud of it. It was a time when political correctness did not exist and people were much more open about who they were. It was a time when a farmer was a farmer who lived his whole life in the same area in the same city. To that farmer the world existed only as far as he could see and the only possibilities were the things which he could fathom. Nothing else beyond his vision or thoughts really existed (Glaeser, Ponzetto & Shapiro, 2005).
All of this has now changed. The starving kid in Africa now dreams of driving corvettes in Malibu. The repressed teenager in North Korea wishes he was born in a liberal country where he could party and fornicate. All of us can see all around us thanks to the highly developed world of media. We can use the internet to connect to anyone we want. We live in an era where we can see anything we want (Huxley, 1982). Yet, instead of helping us see clearer this has only clouded our vision. Being able to see so much has made us lost our focus. It has driven us far from reality to the point where we really cannot see the difference between illusion and reality.
1.1 How illusions can affect reality
These illusions end up affecting our reality so much that they become reality. An illusion once created will expand until it has covered reality into something which we want. Imagine a kid who thinks his parents hate him and love his brother more than they love him. He will see every punishment that he gets as evidence of this reality. The illusion that he is hated and his brother is loved will end up turning him bitter and he will act out against his parents. Eventually his actions will be such that this illusion will end up turning into reality. We are just the same. All of the illusions that we are surrounded by ultimately turn into reality. They end up becoming the funnel through which we pour reality into our minds. This is a very dangerous thing.
In this way our reality is forever affected by the illusions that we cloud our vision with. All the illusions being sent to us through different means have covered our eyes and we have become blind to reality. We watch opinion shows on television and end up thinking that the opinions being expressed on that show are reality (Glaeser, Ponzetto & Shapiro, 2005). These opinionated things results in people with extremist views who poison reality with their illusions.
1.2 Can we really distinguish the two?
The question arises then that is there any way to distinguish these illusions from reality? The only answer which we can give is that there is no clear way to distinguish between illusion and reality. We are limited by our senses. The illusions of today are so colorful, so vivid that they sometimes seem much more plausible than the reality of the situation itself. We have no tool to distinguish between reality and illusion. When our eyes, ears and mind can all be fooled into these illusions then what can we do in order to find the reality?
There are people who are able to see reality and these people are the ones who are able to change reality for better. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King saw what reality was and they worked to change it and make it better. They were able to see that things like racism were merely illusions and that mankind was created equal in all ways which meant that people should not be discriminated upon based on their skin. These people saw past the illusion and ended up showing other people their vision. They made the world a much better and fairer place to live which is not an easy thing to do at all. How are these people able to see these realities?
We may not know the true answer to this question ever. Maybe they just had the vision to see farther than we ever can. There were millions of other people going through the same things as these people but those people ended up being consumed by the illusions. They became racists and murderers and now they are known by history as villains. If we wanted to achieve the same vision as these people we too will have to sit down and think hard about what illusion is and what is reality. We will have to think long and hard about our reality in order to be able to identify the truth. It is possible to distinguish between reality and illusion but not for everyone. Or maybe everyone just cannot put in the work that these people did.
2. Television opinion has replaced thoughts
Another very worrying trend that is connected to our inability to distinguish between reality and illusion is how important television opinion shows have become. There was a time when one of the most basic requirement of any television personality on a serious news channel was to make sure that they were not biased and were presenting an objective view. Nowadays the only thing that seems to be making the television opinion show hosts popular is how extreme they are in their opinions. People like Glenn Beck who is openly biased against the left are becoming more and more popular. Previously people preferred to get the straight facts on these shows so they could think about it and create their own opinion about the issues. This is no longer true. The people of today want to get opinions which they can fathom and accept even if the opinions are not based on any reality.
Television opinion has replaced free thought. People are seen in rallies with signs that proclaim that ‘Obama is Hitler’ or that ‘GOP are FASCISTS’. None of these things are facts or intelligent thoughts. There was a time when saying something as stupid as this would have made people laugh at you. Not it just makes people uneasy. Such dumb proclamations have become so popular in the world of today that we do not even bother to think about them. We just ignore these people and pretend that they do not exist. We pretend that things are perfectly normal and that we have no problems (Glaeser, Ponzetto & Shapiro, 2005).
2.2 Do we even think anymore?
Do people seriously even think anymore or do we just take the thoughts from others and present them as our own? Instead of encouraging debate on topics we choose to sit together with people who think exactly like us. We are living in an era where people have just stopped thinking and will do anything that is told to them. We do not think about our actions or really think about anything.
One instance which really shows that people are just not thinking is the so called ‘ground zero mosque’ which ended up becoming a huge controversy. People were rallying and picketing against the fact that a mosque was being built 2 blocks away from ground zero. The thing to think about is that there was a mosque (Muslim prayer area) in the world trade center itself and there will most probably be a mosque in the new freedom towers being created (McRaney, 2010). If anyone had really stopped and thought about what they were protesting they would not have been doing what they were doing.
2.3 How is this affecting our culture
Our culture is becoming more and more hateful. Hate is created by fear and fear is being created through illusions – illusionary enemies that always seem to want to kill us and finish our country. We live in a culture where people are giving up their freedom because they are so afraid for their lives. People have started claiming that racial profiling should be used if it gets results. Racial profiling was a thing we all used to rally against a few decades ago. Today the same people are saying racial profiling is justified. People are becoming conditioned to being screened everywhere they go. People have become so paranoid that they suspect everyone to be enemies.
Democrats thing that Republicans want to destroy the country by giving up to the terrorists. Republicans think that Democrats will destroy the country with their policies. Stupid ideologies like these have created a culture which is based on hate and fear and it is eating up the country from the inside (Weisberg, 2007). No nation is a nation unless it is one and we have fragmented ourselves so much that maybe we are not a nation either. People are lashing out against homosexuals, atheists, Muslims and whatnot because hate has become an acceptable thing in our culture. Any culture which tolerates this much hate will end up going to bad places. Unless we see reality that we are exactly the same and we all want the same things then we will not be able to free ourselves from the illusions.
3. Why we aren’t happy?
Another very interesting thing that is happening is that people just do not seem to be happy anymore. People have lost the belief that they had in little things. There was a time when kids were perfectly happy playing with Lego’s. People were happy with their lives because they were grounded in reality. This reality helped us believe in the things that we had and not in the things that were not attainable. We were happy just hanging out with our friends and doing our jobs. This is no longer true. This is the era when everyone wants to be a rock star or a celebrity. Reality TV and paparazzo’s have made us yearn the celebrity status.
3.1 The cult of the celebrity and the unattainable life
There really is no other way but to think of this celebrity craze as a cult. The amount of focus being put on celebrities in this era is not only crazy, it is also unprecedented. Previously people kept their distant from the personal lives of the celebrities. People were interested in what the celebrities said in interviews and what they were creating. When it came to mundane details about their lives no one cared. People were much more worried about their own lives to think of these things as anything important (Glaeser, Ponzetto & Shapiro, 2005).
This has completely changed nowadays. Every new dress worn by a celebrity is seen as something newsworthy. Every rant, every dress, every party, each and everything done by celebrities is now being reported on. We have elevated these celebrities to the level of Gods where they live the good life while all of us look like peasants. These celebrity reporters see their audience getting bigger every day. There are actually websites dedicated to tracking the whereabouts of celebrities. People want to stalk celebrities and want to live their lives.
3.2 Why we need to ground ourselves in reality to achieve patience
If we were to accept that even celebrities are just normal people and focus more on our own lives we will live much better. We will be happier with our own lives because instead of comparing it to the lives of the elite we will be content with ourselves. This cannot be done unless we stop the cult of the celebrity. Unless we are willing to understand that we have to work with what we have and that we will not become rock stars or celebrities we will always be unhappy (Loftus & Fieldman, 2006).
4. The illusion of cultural divide
The illusion of culture divide hurts our country more the most. The reason for this is simple. Even though the country has more or less the same culture all over we perceive it as being completely different. We think of our country as being left and right. The funny thing is that when you look at the lifestyles of these people you will not find much of a difference. People who are Republicans or Democrats will both be seen living their lives the same way. Their youngsters will be out partying with friends. Their elders will be hard working people working to support themselves or their families. They will all be making sure that life is good and that it has something great in it. Yet we still perceive them as being completely different people. This is the biggest illusion because the illusion of cultural divide makes people think of people as friends and enemies and not as people. If this divide were to vanish everyone’s life will be infinitely better (Glaeser, Ponzetto & Shapiro, 2005).
4.1 How politics divides us through illusions
Politicians use these illusions to create their base – their manifestos are based on the extent to which they can use the truth and the illusion to befool people. They try to divide people as much as they can because when people are clearly divided they have a much better chance of winning. Imagine how difficult it will be for the political parties if every election people reevaluated their beliefs. If people would objectively evaluate each and every candidate the work that people have to do to get in power would double. Yet through the power of political divide what these people have managed to do is that they have made sure that the voters that are theirs will stay theirs.
People who are Republicans will stay Republicans and people who are Democrats will stay Democrats and vote accordingly. This illusion helps these people create support for their outrageous ides. They know that they can do anything and not lose their support because the people who support them think of the other party as the enemy. This eases the work for the political parties because once they have taken someone there is a very low chance of ever losing them. They can them easily focus on the minority of voters who actually think freely and not worry about the ones that are captured in the illusion of culture divide (Huxley, 1982).
4.2 How a country is separated based on few opinions
How is this cultural divide created? These political parties take one issue and then create their whole support on the basis of that issue. For example the issue of gay marriages is treated very differently by the right and by the left. Hot button issues like this end up making people decide which party they support. If someone supports gay marriage they will definitely vote for the party that supports it too. If someone is against gay marriage then they will vote for the party that is against it. Based on few opinions like these the party will then make these people support their whole agenda. In a perfect world every political candidate would have their own opinion of things and people would look at them and vote for them based on the sum total of their ideas (Glaeser, Ponzetto & Shapiro, 2005). Yet due to the illusion of political divide we have people who base their whole judgment on the basis of few issues like this and political parties that exploit issues like these in order to drum up their judgment.
If we were to truly free ourselves from these illusions and if the people of this era were not encapsulated in these illusions then we will be able to lead better lives. It is illusions like these which make us feel that we are at war with people who think differently. We think that if we give the other people time to talk and if we think about what they are saying they will somehow win. If we were to remove the cloak of these illusions and just accept reality then everything would be better. But distinguishing illusion from reality is such a hard task that most of us just give up and give in to the illusion for it is much easier to live on illusions. Striving to find reality is a hard thing to do and has few rewards. Think of yourself. Would you like to live in a world of objectivity or a world which you have created yourself? Only if we will to leave the illusions will we be able to do it.