Sunday morning in the church yard. Glaring sunlight. A couple of my fellow parishioners were seated on a bench; the man was wearing dark glasses. I started a conversation with the man, who told me how he was letting his transition lenses adjust to the sunlight. Minutes later, I was in conversation with a female parishioner, who also was having issues with her transition lenses. I thought I would connect these two fellow parishioners. I did not know that in addition to transition lenses for light/darkness (the man), there were transition lenses for distance/size (the woman). They got talking, waving their spectacles around. I took a few steps backward and let them get on with it.
I thought about how we see the world around us, and in this set of actual events, I realised how our eyes could be forced to see things in clearness or in different shades of darkness (should I say greyness?). I thought about how the woman’s glasses allowed her to see objects near or far, with differing degrees of clarity, but also a different sense of how close they were to her: I reflected on the safety warning sometimes seen on car mirrors–‘objects in (the) mirror are closer than they appear’.
With the physical world, and our actual sight, we are obliged to recognize how light and distance affect our perception. But, in the emotional world, or the world of human relations, how good are we at recognizing how the ‘light’ that is shone on a subject or a person or event, or our ‘distance’ from a person or event, affect our perception?
In recent weeks, the world of political debate in the US has become interesting for reasons that have much to do with proximity to issues. Discussions about gun control have taken on a different air, as parents of elementary school children, slain by a gunman who entered their school, have brought their personal grief to the debate. The issues have become emotionally charged for them and many parents. The topic ‘has come home’, in some sense.
Similarly, a rapidly rising tide of US Senators have stated openly how their views on the matter of same-sex marriage have changed favourably. I some cases, this was clearly because someone in their family is now at risk of being disadvantaged by policies that would oppose such alliances. (However, see some deeper analysis on this surge in support.) I asked myself, “Does it have to get that close to home for views to change?” I wanted to ask the question with as much neutrality as I could muster. I thought about racial issues, and whether people could not understand discrimination well until they were directly affected. I thought about poverty. What do you understand or feel if you have never had to dive into a dumpster? I’m not buying the notion that you must have ‘suffered’ a situation to understand what it means. But, I understand that such may be the case for some, many.
This same Sunday morning, a friend and I had a long conversation, that began over something that might have seemed very slight, almost inconsequential. A request for consideration went unheeded. The consequence? A slight. Now, hurt and pain. Withdrawal. Distance. Our discussion went on. The seemingly inconsequential, at the outset, was now much larger and more serious. I listened and urged my friend to give the other person a chance to see and hear how she felt. If they were to get eye to eye would that help?
Is anyone developing transition ‘lenses’ for our emotions?
While we ponder, a song to help us along (lyrics included).