What makes us who we are? What shapes our thoughts, our beliefs? How do we know right from wrong? Basically what defines who we are? Granted, our primary caregivers, environment and genes shape our personality to a major degree, but each individual is different, each one is special in his/her own way. Therefore I can say with utmost certainty, that everyone perceives life differently.
What I perceive is normal in life, could seem crazy, extreme to other people and vice versa. The reason so many people judge, disrespect and ‘’label’ are frankly this. Perception. What changes perception? Action? Evidence or lack thereof? Faith? I don’t know. Religion for instance. Most people have a belief in some or other God, or a belief in something better (be it themselves, their life) although there is no evidence that a god exists. It’s their perception. People’s perception may change when evidence is presented to them (addiction disease vs. choice argument) but others won’t accept it. Not because they don’t understand the facts, but it doesn’t fit into the way they perceive the world. I know, I’ve been there.
When I became a Christian for instance. The church, let me believe that the world was only 5000years old. Despite all the evidence showing the exact opposite. It got so bad that I didn’t even want to watch National Geographic, or any website talking about evolution etc. I wanted to be a good Christian. I didn’t want God to think that I don’t have faith in his word. Now I know it’s not true. Now I know that, I was deceived. My perception of the truth was based on perception and interpretation of others who are, and where also deceived. Is a lie still a lie when enough people believe the lie to be the truth? This was just one example in my life of many.
Action changes perception. Example. When the addicts sees one of his friends stopping to use drugs. When he sees how dramatically his friends life changes, how much easier it is without drugs, that the substance is not the all and end all. His perception changes. He goes for help. He sees the evidence of his life changing. He begins to have faith in himself again. His perception of life changes.
Some use fear to try and change others perceptions. This hasn’t, and will never work. Fear itself is a deception. Fear causes the one instilling it, a false sense of security. Fear causes rebellion. If you try and force your perception on someone else, you will either drive them away from you or cause them to rebel against you. Apartheid was a big example of this.
Experience has taught me, that life is what you make of it. Everything in life is how we perceive it. We are all unique with our own, unique set of beliefs, about ourselves, people around us. Before we judge each other about what is right and, what is wrong, we need to try and put ourselves in each other’s shoes. We need to discover ourselves first. We need to be honest and with ourselves, and take responsibility for our mistakes when are in the wrong. We need to learn to express ourselves better. We need to take control of our own lives. Only then through our actions can we change other people’s perceptions and reactions towards us. Only then we can truly be free.