Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Take: Reality is Real

Cecil the Lion
It is August, and despite still being on vacation, I read a thought provoking OpEd piece in the New York Times this morning. 

The article by Roxane Gay titled, Of Lions and Men: Mourning Samuel DuBose and Cecil the Lion, reminded me that reality is not absolute. What is real may be absolute, but reality is based upon perception, emotion, and belief. If I believe something, then for me it is real and it affects the lens through which I view the world. 

I have been following both stories, Cecil the Lion who was illegally poached by the Minnesota dentist and the shooting/murder of Samuel DuBose. 

Samuel DuBose
The released video in the Samuel DuBose case appears to materially contradict the reports of the police officers. The video recorded what was real. It recorded what happened without regard to the interactions between the people involved. 

I know, from my own experiences, that what I remember about a situation varies from what is real because I am influenced by my own reality. My reality precludes me from being an inanimate recording device because I feel emotion and my memories are clouded by my biases. I remember how I was feeling and I see the situation through my own lens--and it is often a cloudy lens.

In her piece this morning, Ms. Gay writes:

When you hear, “black lives matter,” don’t instinctively respond that all lives matter, as if one statement negates the other. Instead, try to understand why people of color might be compelled to remind the world that their lives have value.

When others share their reality, don’t immediately dismiss them because their reality is dissimilar to yours, or because their reality makes you uncomfortable and forces you to see things you prefer to ignore.

I highlighted the line that really resonated with me, because I know that it happens all of the time. I see it, I do it, and I have my own personal reality negated.

I agree with Ms. Gay that it is interesting that our society seems intent on rectifying, if it could, the slaughter of Cecil the Lion, but not stopping the violence that is happening all around us. In closing her OpEd piece this morning she writes:

I am thinking about how and when people choose to show empathy publicly. Cecil the lion was a majestic creature and a great many people mourn his death, the brutality of it, the senselessness of it. Some people also mourn the deaths, most recently, of Sandra Bland and Samuel DuBose, but this mourning doesn’t seem to carry the same emotional tenor. A late-night television host did not cry on camera this week for human lives that have been lost. He certainly doesn’t have to. He did, however, cry for a lion and that’s worth thinking about. Human beings are majestic creatures, too. May we learn to see this majesty in all of us.

I believe she is onto something we all need to take a moment to think about.

-- Bob Doan, writing aboard the Carnival Conquest 
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