I often do wonder what the world looks like from your shoes; I might be introverted but I could never be accused of lacking empathy. I possess a fairly keen awareness of the fact that the world does not revolve around me and although I do not claim to understand why other people behave in ways that are foreign to me, I’m not going to wax superior to them for the fact that I think and act differently than they do. The one caveat is people who deliberately go out of their way to inflict harm upon others, whether directly or vicariously through legislation; in those cases, I won’t say that I’m superior to them, only that I find them to be bereft of any discernible sense of moral goodness.
Nevertheless, I do consider that in some ways the world would appear significantly different when viewed from the vantage point of another person’s perspective. That said, there are obvious things that I can only logically conclude that we would agree upon. The window with the chipped white frame to my left would not cease to be a window with a chipped white frame to my left; it would remain a window and it would remain chipped and white and to my left. We can all agree upon this. The passing cars would still be passing cars; the parking enforcement officer would still be out there creating financial headaches for patrons of the local brewpub who, through forgetfulness or inebriation, have lost track of time. The solitary Narnian lamppost with a hanging bouquet of pinkish flowers would still be there, the saltwater inlet beyond it would still be salty and flowing and the sky would still be an almost too perfect shade of blue. Taking into consideration the possibilities of eye-conditions such as colorblindness or outright blindness, as well as arbitrary differences in educational backgrounds and upbringings—for instance, a person who has neither read nor seen The Chronicles of Narnia would not describe the lamppost as Narnian because they would not have the formative literary foundation to do so—in nearly any other person’s shoes, what exists before my eyes from this perspective would look exactly as it does to me at this very moment. A thing is either the thing that it is, or it isn’t; and if you say that it isn’t, you take ownership of the burden of proving your case. Being obtuse is not an intellectual right. If you want to make a public case that a cat is not a cat, but rather a dog, you’re now responsible for supporting your case; if you choose not to, you have ipso fact stripped yourself of intellectual relevance; in essence, you’re a kook.
Why do we have such a difficult time looking at something as it plainly is and en masse, agreeing upon what we are seeing? It might be amusing to joke about “alternative facts” but the fact that anyone would sincerely allow themselves to give credence to such an inane notion is intrinsically lacking in humour; contrarily, it is a bit unnerving. I am disturbed by how far down the slippery slope of doublespeak we have descended. We cannot simply dismiss this behaviour as the mere rantings of a mad president and his legions of mindless supporters because we see very similar manifestations of it in our daily lives; corporate advertising techniques aimed at duping consumers into believing they need things that they don’t legitimately need and, in many cases, cannot afford; doctors prescribing medication combinations that are known to have adverse effects on patients simply for the sake of pacification, rather than healing or curing; perpetuation of myths and outright lies by authoritarian, political-minded religious leaders who pimp themselves to the highest bidders because they couldn’t care less about saving souls, but are in the religion game solely to bring themselves power, money and attention.
I am not so much of an anarchist that I believe that we should be completely lawless; such thinking is irresponsible and dangerous. But the implementations of rules which exist solely for the purpose of fortifying the imposition of social conformity are, by their very nature, a form of institutional slavery. Restrictions on allowing people to look, dress and act as they wish are a form of exercising control over other human beings. This very concept is not only immoral, it ought to be illegal. The fact that, after millions of years of evolution, human beings still cannot get past essentially superficial facades is unfathomable. If Albert Einstein had looked like Marilyn Manson, would his style of dress and appearance have negated or diminished his genius? The world likely wouldn’t have known his genius because he would never have been granted the opportunity to exercise that genius; he’d have been turned away because of the shallow biases of some narrow-minded dimwit with a title and an inflated ego. Tattoo policies, piercing policies, restrictions on hair color and length, dress codes, even forms of remote censorship and the corresponding implementation of punitive measures such as policing peoples’ social media sites and lifestyle choices for the sake of terminating them from employment or academic standing. Can I place myself in the shoes of a business owner who imposes these restrictions on his or her employees? Yes, insofar as I can physically see the person with tattoos and piercings and tri-colored hair in the same way that the business owner can physically see that person. But our perception likely ends there; they see a person who might “frighten” potential customers who are as narrow-minded as themselves, thereby diminishing profits—aka their true god, whereas I see a person who is expressive, comfortable in their own skin and might be open-minded and free-thinking enough to offer new perspectives and opinions for the benefit of the business as a whole.
Judgment is not and should be a dirty word; pre-judgment, that is, prejudice is something entirely different. If I meet the person with ink and facial hardware and that person is a complete buffoon, I can now judge that person as being unworthy of filling whatever role I as an employer might need filled, in the same way that I could judge a person who was conservatively dressed to the nines, clean-shaven with close-cropped hair combed neatly who might prove to be incompetent in an interview. But from my own unique vantage point, a guy in a suit is just a guy in a suit until I’ve had a chance to speak with that person for the sake of getting to know who they are and what they have to offer; similarly, a girl with a punk rock motif is just a girl with a punk rock motif until I get to know the unique person that she is.
The window with the chipped white frame to my left is what it is; regardless of who is sitting here in this grey chair with four plastic legs. The chair could be replaced with a black leather chair on wheels or a metal folding chair, but the window as it exists at this moment is just a window with a white chipped frame; no more, no less. It is entirely within the realm of possibility, however, that if one was to dig deeper, they might find that the chipped paint was a sign of internal rot or termites or the use of poor materials. They might also find that it has been there for 200 years, still going strong and the chipped paint is just a sign of its longevity and resilience; is this not precisely the point I’m trying to convey?