The problem with memes, phrases, sayings, and even quotes is that they are not as necessarily true as they are treated. They may rhyme, and have a “ring of truth” yet they are not, without a proper context, true.
The example I’ve had rolling around in my head are these:
- Believing is seeing.
- Seeing is believing.
Both seem to be used equally as much with different people groups. Often concerning religion, or Santa Claus, and usually in the form of “you/I won’t ____ it until you ____ it.” I’d like to point out the faults in each, and the truths in each, to show that they are not ultimately and totally true in themselves.
If I see it, then I will believe it.
Foregoing the extreme nihilistic skeptic, this is often true of individuals. Hard to believe concepts often require tangible proof. Examples: “Your wife bought you a 1969 Mustang. It’s in your driveway,” or “you just won the lottery,” or even “I have a green ball in my right hand.” For some, it seems detrimental to the psyche to believe them without evidence. The disappointment and reversible of that high dopamine response to you getting extremely excited is something we tend to try to avoid. So, we don’t believe things like “we just won the lottery,” sometimes, even after we see the numbers. It’s just too big and unbelievable.
However, is this a healthy stance to take on all matters?
Of course not.
Issues such as eating disorders and other self-esteem related conditions are an easy example. How do you show someone they are not fat, when they see fat in the mirror? More on this after the next issue:
You have to believe it, to see it.
Often the catch line of many kid’s holiday movies, the crochety old grown ups just can’t see Santa anymore because they lost their ability to believe and imagine. But is it true?
We see this evidenced most with negativity. If you believe the world is full of evil, than you are more likely to see more evil things. If you believe in demons, you’re most likely to see that sleep paralysis (a somewhat common parasomnia) as demons holding you down and crawling over your body, or movement in shadows more often. If to you, the world is going to hell then…. well, you’ll likely see hell where ever you look.
But if we attach this mantra to the above examples of the lottery winning and the mustang, it’s clear that believing you won will not make it true.
Or will it?
This is where my concluding thought comes into play: it’s all in the perspective. In a way, perspective is the starting biases of a person’s psyche, the beliefs. A nihilistic skeptic, based on it’s core beliefs, will not believe anything no matter what the “proof.” A biologist may need to see something under a microscope before believing. A Christian may not be willing to accept that Jesus may not be the prophesied messiah no matter what textual criticism comes his/her way.
Applying both mantras to the above, both are true. The Christian, if spent some time believing God/Jesus does not exist, will most likely see it and thus continue to believe it (ex. Ryan Bell). They feed in to each other.
The mind is a powerful thing, and this “seeing,” is in its own sense, a subjective word. We only see through our own two eyes, and the mind can only interpret what is observes through its programming.
In conclusion, they’re both true. Use them to your own, individual, personal benefit. Is believing the world is going to hell helping you? Is your doubt and skepticism preventing you from seeing that maybe your perspective on what “fat” is isn’t entirely true/helpful to you?
Penny for your Thoughts? Which side do you side with more often, believing or seeing? Which do you think comes first?