We all have presuppositions and assumptions about life. We all stand on a street corner and see the world from our perspective. Philosophers, scientists, and many many more people debate the possibility of finding an "objective" viewpoint, and most now in the post-modern world are realizing more and more that we still bring ourselves into this realm of reality. We all have a perspective, a filter that we look at the world through. I think the trick is understanding what our own filters are, so we can understand if we need to clean them or not!
Take a look at the two pictures below:
It's the same scene isn't it? But it looks differently...our eyes are almost even drawn to different aspects of the picture. The red pot contrasts with the blue sky, giving a much different sense of depth to the picture. The first picture is a raw image I took with our camera in Jerome, Arizona. The second is a photo-edited version of the picture that Amanda altered. I would argue that while I know and can tell what my eye saw in taking the picture in the first image. However, the beauty that I beheld in wanting to take the picture, the vista of the snow-capped red rocks, the whisping clouds, and the foreground of the red pot really is better represented by Amanda's rendition of the picture. So which is real? They both are, and yet neither one is an obective reality, but rather a perspective of reality.
We often hear about rose-colored glasses that means we only see the good in life, often ignoring the complex realities that are around us. However, I also know many people who tend to err on the side of reality being "just the way it is." I believe we all need some hope, to see some beauty in the world around us which is leading and directing us toward a better future. There are so many arguing points by people of different viewpoints, with different presuppositions, that it is no wonder that it seems like I can't go a day anymore without hearing of them.
Which one is correct?
This is completely the wrong question to ask. They all are cloaked in filters, but are all equally valid experiences. The trick is to understand our filters, and to get to know the other's filters as well, to move towards this hope of a better future. Stephen Covey and others call these our paradigms, others our faith, worldview, or convictions. Some of us construct elaborate systems, others leave it very simply on a small core foundation. Often, we live according to things we haven't even recognized as a conviction.
So what's the point, then? Where does the hope come from? For me, hope comes from there being a purpose and meaning to life, given by a God that created out of his love and has chosen to reveal himself to his creation. He is telling us that there is a filter which is not rose-colored, but that our perspectives can become as his perspective toward this world. Ultimately, our perspectives remain unique, but all focused on what is true and right and not what is selfish and deceitful. As we live our lives, do we know and embrace those around us, understanding their very real perspectives, but also living in the understanding of our own adapting and transforming perspective? This God understands the life that we live, with its pain, joy, struggles, and mysteries because he chose to limit himself and become one of us. I know not everyone believes this, but as I have journeyed so far, I see so much more hope coming from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than in any other set of beliefs. And that is because the hope is not something that happens elsewhere at some other time. But the hope is at hand!!! The hope can be tangibly accessed and participated in today, in this moment, if we can understand our filters and allow them to be transformed by the Spirit!
The best part of it all is that it is possible for each of us, no matter how distorted or rigid we tend to be in our perspective, if we submit our will. Even more joyous to me is that this does not mean assimilation, like the Borg in Star Trek, but rather a living breathing organism of a community which embraces the uniqueness of each one of us, as created by God. We readily acknowledge that there are no two people who are exactly the same (even identical twins have different personalities and experiences that shape them!), so we need to recognize that the hope of the future somehow has to maintain this uniqueness!!! Very few of us want to be automatons, cogs in the wheel, of a larger machine that has no value in us as there are endless replacement parts. But we would gladly accept our role as a part of an organization or community in which we are completely valued for what we bring and the work we do, when we are focused on the common mission. This common mission, the missio dei, is the unifying effect which encapsulates the filters and allows us to hope. Each of us unique, seeing reality from our perspective, like the first photo above, but understanding the beauty that is found in life, when we allow our filters to be transformed into the hope of life, just as the second picture demonstrates.
*Note - I'd love to hear from anyone on this - particularly because I would love to hear a clear description of this. I'm not sure if I'm being really clear in the point...if this is the best way of understanding life as we live, adapt, and grow. There is a hope and a future out there - how do we live and understand it in all the glorious expressions in each individual as well as community?