8 May 2015
Everyone, without exception, has cultural myopia. We can’t see things clearly because the factors that formed us have prejudiced our ability to view the world objectively. Our family’s religion, politics, class, education, and general health determine our outlook. Add to that the random happenstances of life plus our innate personalities, and you have the formula for each person’s unique perception.
We can, of course, break some of these patterns . . . if we choose. We can lose faith or gain it. We can revise our political affiliations. We can decide to buck the trend of the people around us and acquire education, move away, or refuse to behave in a particular way. Such decisions require conscious effort on our part and the bravery to forge into unknown territory. Change brings a degree of new clarity to our vision, but it’s impossible for anyone to exist in a truly objective plane.
Besides, it would be boring if we all did.
The internet affords us the opportunity to interact with myopics from all over the world. In our safe real-life havens, we tend to surround ourselves with people who don’t challenge our world view, whose near-sightedness usually matches the prescription of ours. But put us in a room full of individuals who think differently and our stress levels may spike. It’s like a virtual cocktail party—will we act boorishly or engage others with passion and tact? Will we allow ourselves to see nuances and depths we never noticed before, or will we hammer home our agenda without regard to the factors that formed others’ prejudices?
Is there always a right and a wrong, or is the truth mostly grey? And in the end, does it even matter?
We have discussed these tensions recently at One Year of Letters. Eight months in, this project has begun to solidify our skills, our approach, and most importantly our voice. We began our work on a very personal level, but then we consciously broadened the scope. Some letters are intimate. Others tackle subjects more global in nature. Our objective was always to stay true to ourselves, and to that end we have begun to speak out about harder hitting issues. As always, we invite responses to our pieces. It’s our job as writers to engage the audience. Hopefully we will charm you or provoke deeper thinking. Sometimes, however, we say something that needs to be said, though not everyone wants to hear it.
That’s the whole point of our project. Sometimes we’re opening our deeper selves up for review; sometimes we open dialogues that scratch at the crusted scabs of society. This does not give us license to wound or insult, but we must not be afraid to address the joy and the pain, the hate and the anguish, and the absolute limits of human existence.
We must speak of perceptions and give them all the depth we can possibly manage. We write with myopia, as all writers do, but we strive to write words of universality. We can no longer stand by and not speak of these things.
To read more letters, click The Path!