With the ongoing onslaught of the fracturing of humanity that greets us in the news every day there is a responsive propensity to stop listening, stop reading, tune out or turn away from the reports and images of a baffling government, of another opioid death, of migrants corralled in tent cities, of languishing foster children, of jobs that can’t meet the rent, of insidious racism…
It all seems too much and our too usual reaction of shutting down, tuning out. Turning the page has become our default.
Let me rephrase this: It is too often my default. What a sad commentary. No, not sad, reprehensible. Having owned up to this clears a little room in my mind to ask myself, “How can I do better? How can I turn my face towards our challenged world and view myself as a part of it rather than isolating myself from it?”
When asking this question an image popped into my mind which was the experience of sitting in the ophthalmologist’s chair and having that prehistoric looking piece of machinery called a “phoropter” put up to my eyes as the technician clicks different lenses in place while repeatedly asking, “Is this better or is this better? Is this one clearer or is this one clearer?”
For some reason, this test commands my full attention as I am challenged to assess and reassess my focus… So here’s my thought, why couldn’t these phoropters be repurposed so that we could look through different lenses and, in effect, view aspects of our world through different eyes? The eyes of a migrant, the eyes of someone addicted to drugs, the eyes of a Trump supporter, the eyes of a Muslim American, the eyes of whoever the “other” is…
We could look through these lenses and, in so doing, get an idea, a glimpse, a sense of their perspective, their challenges, hopes and dreams. For a moment we would be able to get out of our own way, step aside from our own fears and assumptions to look through lenses to see and feel what is seen and felt by the “other.”
It wouldn’t be perfect. The clarity would never be spot on but it would be so much more than nothing. It would be so much more than numbly tuning out or turning a blind eye. Better sight allows for better choices. My choices. Your choices. Our choices.