Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 10, 2013

ROOT: What you perceive is what you get

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Life is all about perception. Where did that statement come from? It came from an onslaught of television I was watching when I should have been doing much more productive things. The first thing my wife and I watched was George Carlin’s last comedy special. You can say what you want about Carlin, but the man always knew how to put his cranky old man thoughts into words. In some instances, he was frighteningly accurate.

Then my wife and I did some more exploring on Netflix and discovered a show by National Geographic called “Is It True?” It is a show that presents as much objective evidence as possible to help debunk or support some of the more outrageous claims that people make on a regular basis. When you put those two television programs together, you get a better understanding of how perception can alter the way you look at the world.

A good example of what I am talking about is the afterlife. According to Carlin, there is no such thing as God, the afterlife or ghosts. The National Geographic show avoided the religious discussions and essentially stuck with insisting that ghosts are not real. When you put those two perceptions together, you get a pretty bleak outlook for the human condition after we pass away.

One of the experts on the National Geographic show said that seeing ghosts is a survival mechanism created by man to help us to feel as though there is more to life than just our mortal coil. In other words, the belief in ghosts allows us to feel as though we can survive death in some form.

I will give you a little more simplistic example of how perception alters the way we see the world. Do I believe that people are seeing UFOs all over the world? Yes, I do. But what does that mean? A UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object. That means that if you cannot identify something that is flying through the sky, then it is a UFO. So, do I believe in UFOs? Sure, everyone has seen one. Do I believe in little green men visiting our planet? No.

There has to be a certain leap of faith that we all make to try and explain some of the things that we see. I am one of those strange people who believes in God but does not believe in ghosts. I believe that there is something out there that is pulling the strings and we just don’t get to see who the puppet master is. I believe that what happens in Heaven, stays in Heaven. Maybe that is my defense mechanism. Maybe I prefer to satisfy my logical side by saying that Heaven is there, but it is a seriously gated community where no one gets in without a pass and no one gets out.

Here is the other thing to think about. Do I believe that we have been visited by little green men? No, I do not. Do I believe that there is life on other planets? Absolutely. I am not so self-centered that I believe humans are the only form of life in the entire universe. I just don’t think that anyone has visited us yet.

Look how long it took us just to pretend that we got to the moon. Has anyone ever wondered how we were supposedly able to get to the moon in the 1960s when computers were the size of buildings, but we couldn’t even break Earth’s orbit in highly sophisticated space shuttles? I am not a scientist, so my logic may be off. But it just seems odd to me.

Life is what you perceive it to be. You can take all of the facts that are presented to you, but you will still get your own interpretation of those facts. Your life experiences and your deeply held beliefs will take those facts and put a spin on them that will make them easier for you to swallow.

George Carlin found it easier to question everything and believe in nothing. His perception of life is that it was one big lie. Maybe he was right, but I still think that some of what he said was way off the mark.

That is why it is dumb to argue about opinions. If you believe in ghosts, then more power to you. I am not going to argue with you. Your perception is different than mine. It doesn’t make you or I wrong, it just makes us different. Maybe if we all gave each other the same kind of leeway, then things wouldn’t be so screwed up on this planet of ours.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident and an eternal optimist. His column appears every Wednesday, or does it? He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net. Moon landing photos are welcomed.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident and an eternal optimist. His column appears every Wednesday, or does it? He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net. Moon landing photos are welcomed.