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When Perception Becomes Reality

Written by JB Williams

©2005-01-12

When opinion is accepted as fact, perception soon becomes reality, at least for those who share these opinions and cling to the resulting perceptions. Herein lies the reason for the division in America today and unless we make a concerted effort to separate perception from reality, opinion from fact, fiction from truth, that division will continue.How is it that an individual can read the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and see the word “of” as relates freedom of press, speech, or redress, yet the word “from” as relates only to religion?

How does one reason that we can have freedom “of” anything we are to be free “from”? Only a lawyer could make this case, but then, it is their function in life to defend the indefensible, make an argument where no case exists. In other words, replace reality with perception… (See O.J. trial)

How does one read the Fourth Amendment strictly addressing Illegal Search and Seizure, and gleam from it a Constitutional Right to abortion?

How is it possible that people, even Christians, can look at American history, and not know the foundational principles our nation was built upon?

Only by replacing realty with a preferred perception, are these things possible.

In this regard, I find Atheism to be an interesting concept. By definition, Atheism is to Religion, what cold is to hot. Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as “cold”, only the absence of “heat”. Likewise, Atheism is NOT an ideology, but rather the absence thereof…yet many believe in this absence, with all their hearts.

The problem is, throughout our day, personally, professionally, as a self-governed society, we make judgments, decisions, based on our understanding of the circumstances and opportunities surrounding those decisions.

The old adage formerly applied to our computers, “junk in = junk out”, applies to people as well, our minds being nothing more than the most complex computer on earth. The quality of our decisions is in great part dependent upon the quality of the information we use to make those decisions.

Now, some have gone to great pains to create from thin air, certain perceptions in America, about America, its past, and therefore, its future. Without delving into the “who” or “why”, it is vital to our future as a nation, as a people, that we correct these perceptions by focusing on reality.

The first perception void of reality in America today is that we are divided down the middle. Though many use a set of ideologically acceptable numbers to prove this myth, it isn’t so.

Half of the public does not vote, we don’t know why, so we don’t know exactly what they think. The other half are closely divided, but on the basis of perceptions, not reality. If we were all working with the same set of facts, (information based on real occurrences supported by verifiable evidence), we would not be nearly as divided… So why don’t we?

In short, because the known facts don’t always support our personal agenda, so we invent or subscribe to a set of opinions or perceptions that do.

Much is said about bias in the media today and for good reason. However, you must first realize that there is no such thing as an unbiased person, media folks included. We all have core beliefs, ideologies through which we see, judge and report all things. They have a name for people who can completely separate themselves from, well, themselves, its schizophrenic, (clinically speaking that is), one with a split personality.

Here comes the hard part, how does one separate perception from reality? The hardest part is that one must be willing, in search of the truth, the reality, rather than simply the supporting documentation for a belief already held.

This is where CBS went wrong in the Rathergate story. Producer Mary Mapes started with a personal belief or ideology unflattering to Bush, causing her to spend five years searching for documentation supporting that ideology. Five years later, when Burkett, (who shared her ideology), provided the desired supporting documentation, Mapes didn’t look twice, took it to Rather, (who also shared the ideology), and the rest is now history…

Had the story been successful, (rather than the biggest backfire in network news history), perception created in that story would have become a reality, when Bush lost his re-election as a result.

This is where John Kerry had trouble too. Desperate to create a war hero image for campaign purposes, he projected his self-aggrandizing perception onto the world stage. However, reality was looming close by, in the form of fellow decorated Vet’s who shared the real John Kerry war experience, and again, the rest is history.

Had the Swift Vets not existed, or remained silent, there is a good chance that perception would have become reality, as Kerry took an oath of office as Commander-in-Chief.

Our nation is divided today mostly on the basis of perception verses reality.

Look at the headline “No WMD in Iraq”. Reportedly, only 34% of Americans believe that WMD have been found in Iraq, proving only that 66% do not know what a WMD is…

This headline creates the clear perception that no WMD were found, so none existed.

However, reality is, WMD were found, just not in the form expected by public perception. The form expected was a nuclear or chemical device at the end of a long range missile. This expectation and public perception was caused by a media frenzy, which aimed to narrow the debate to those types of WMD we all knew we wouldn’t find, so that all others found would be meaningless.

The perception becomes the reality. Public perception was created, public anticipation was activated, no missiles were found, bingo, the media and dissenters were right…NO WMD in Iraq! Wrong…

Now this might be a good way to gain favor with political constituents, but it isn’t a very good way to run a country, or even a household.

Even as I write this, I can sense the ensuing lash-back from those who have either allowed themselves to be deceived, or deceived themselves. But it doesn’t change the facts, those actual occurrences supported by indisputable evidence.

Is this it? Is this how we want to run our country, our home, and our lives?

If it is, I’m afraid those of us who don’t run our lives this way will have to remain at odds with those of you who lack the stomach to run your lives any other way. The nation will remain divided, and we can continue to focus on running things without any input from you.

How sad that would be….acceptable, but sad.

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