Sunday, December 6, 2009

Only a point of view

Did you hear that interesting item on the news this morning? The item where they were discussing how, with the wide variety of international news sources, young people are culling their television news not just from the BBC, ITN and Sky, but also from the Middle East, the States and anywhere you like to name. Nor are those who trawl the web restricted to the British Press. They can find variations of the same international stories around the globe.
This, needless to say, provides as many viewpoints on what's happening as it does news stories!
It also provokes the question: how impartial is 'news'?

Have you a moment for some explorative pondering?

I don't think I told you that Polly came to tea the other week. Polly is a much-acclaimed professional photographer. You'd love her work, it's thought-provoking, amusing and perceptive. In fact it superbly illustrates the fact that a photograph is a work of art. Not only is it a work of art, it is also a reflection of the mind of the photographer. Polly's photographs are not just the world as viewed through the lens of her camera, they are the world as seen through the eyes and mind of Polly.

Which brings us back to that discussion on the radio this morning. Seen through the lens of the UK media, the situation in Afghanistan may, and probably does, differ widely from the version broadcast in the Middle East. In the same way, a news item relegated to a small paragraph on a back-page in this country may command front-page dominance elsewhere.
As with Polly and her camera, the news comes through the eyes and mind-set of those experiencing it. However impartial we try to be, our reports and reactions are filtered through a miasma of opinion, a lifetime of experience.

Is there any way that we can get behind another person's eyes and see the world from their point of view?
I wish there were . . . but I don't think so.
May I tell you a silly story to illustrate this point? When I was a small child there was a question that used to bother me. How, I wondered, could it be proved that, when I looked up into the sky, the blue that I was seeing was the same blue as everyone else was seeing? There seemed to be no way of proving this. Even more disturbing was the fact that the blue seen through my left eye was a distinctly different shade of blue to that viewed from my right eye! Even my two eyes had a different point of view . . . they still have! If my eyes beg to differ, what hope can there be for two people . . . ?

I don't think I've told you about a fascinating book that I'm reading at the moment. It's by Roberto Kaplan, and it's called 'Conscious Seeing'.
One point it makes is that we have become far too obsessed with 'looking' as distinct from 'seeing'. Think about it for a moment. A news reporter 'looks' for a slant on the news, he doesn't necessarily 'see' the whole picture. The words themselves reflect the difference in meaning. We say, "I see!" at moments of insight, we don't say, "I look!". Looking infers that you are focused on the specific at the expense of the bigger picture . . . it usually involves thinking and concentration. Seeing, on the other hand, is being open to what is there . . . it is intuitive, sensitive and perceptive.
Am I right in thinking that our culture seems to be growing more and more focused on looking, thereby fragmenting and losing sight of the whole?

I'm sorry, I'm rambling on and your time is precious.
So . . . can we share any conclusions . . .?

That whatever you hear . . . whatever you read . . . however much you may consider you agree or disagree . . . it all comes filtered through the eyes and mind of the person communicating. However well-written, passionately expressed, or widely circulated, it is, in the end, only a point of view.

And truth . . . ?
I only know that truth shines with a very bright light . . . a light much brighter than words, a light that is instantly recognisable and needs no interpretation.

This would seem to be my cue to stop using unnecessary words and let the light shine in . . . farewell!