“Perceptions and Misconceptions that Mislead,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
I would like to talk about perceptions that are really misconceptions and that serve to mislead us. Let me note at the outset that the reasons for incorrect and misleading perceptions are that we live in an information system based on images, quick little blips, emails, and text messages. What information we are given comes from some source of an agenda, right or left, or, perhaps termed a right or left political propaganda. Moreover, most people are so busy trying to survive they literally have little time to read, think, or reflect. In the former age and society of print communication, more complex thinking was made available and read in the print medium. Witness the novel War and Peace by Tolstoy; Middlemarch Elements by George Eliot; The writings of J.S. Mill and Karl Marx; and Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The list of these more complex print works is endless. The result is that our society in much of its thinking is governed by perception and first impressions. Let me give some examples. There are men who will conclude that looks and beauty are seen as making a worthy person and by the same token those who dress well are seen as the same. But these are no more than surface qualities and the perception that they have meaning is obviously wrong. Many people will say the same of material wealth and riches such as owning a BMW or a Lexus, or having a vacation home in the Hamptons. Again, this perception and the conclusion drawn from it has no ultimate and intrinsic meaning. Others draw the conclusion from the perception that those who are better educated or smarter are therefore worthy. Again, an incorrect perception. These perceptions are drawn from the media and our current culture. Another perception is that very strong people such as athletes are seen as worthy. Again, a perception, but obviously incorrect. All these perceptions and conclusions have no basis in fact. The truth is that what is truly “worthy” is largely a matter of character, love, and compassion, as well as the contribution to the world of talent, not based on the perceptions I have noted, but a gift of God in the service of others The truth of the life well lived is in the life of Albert Schweitzer, who gave up his university post in France to be a medical missionary in Africa, and in Mother Teresa’s life of service to the poor of India.
Of course, there are other false perceptions, such as the group that sees itself as morally superior, although this is a somewhat diminished group. Others take up the perception that their culture raises them up. All these are false and incorrect perceptions that are essentially. We come to believe in these perceptions, which are largely false and untrue, because of the forces I have just described in our current culture, a culture of computers, television, and media that assaults all of us on a constant and unremitting basis. Certain media channels have repeatedly pronounced President Trump a racist. The facts are that he was the owner of a multibillion dollar business in NYC where he employed a great diversity of people and has brought vast employment to the minority communities in this country and in fact won an award from the NAACP. Perceptions are false and misleading. They are glib conclusions on the surface in a system that leaves little room for thought and reflection.
Elements of this essay are drawn from Chapter 7 of my book “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others Political, Literary, and Philosophical,” pub. by Hamilton books, in an essay entitled ‘A Few False Idols.’