Saturday, 17 March 2012

Perception and Shaping Reality

This TEDx video inspired me to write on a topic that I've always found fascinating since it pertains to my life quite a bit.

Essentially, the concept of perception that we know today is formed around our cultural norms, and these norms are typically defined as a collective agreement by the majority. While the acceptance of norms usually needs some form of majority to be adopted, the drivers of these norms are typically a minority. A prime example of this is how celebrities influence current trends. So based on the above classifications, perceptions are cultural norms that the majority has accepted, but a minority created. What does this mean for finding ways to change or shape perceptions?

It means that anyone can do it! The trick is finding out how. I'd like to believe that to shape our current and future perceptions, we need to first look to the past and determine why the current perception exists. Since I'm personally invested, I shall focus on why people in wheelchairs are seen as being 'disabled,' useless, and/or inept. I like to think that the root of this perception is simply that people are ignorant of the truth, but to really change things, I need to delve into the traditions of our predecessors and find out how they treated people who were different. Of course, there isn't much mystery behind this question. Our history is riddled full of subjugation, segregation, and degradation. We, as a species, shun what we don't understand because we fear the unknown. We need to feel in control to feel powerful, and on some levels, we feel we have a divine right to be powerful. We see this all the time with statements like: "We're the top of the food chain," "We're the chosen ones." Even though these statements may very well hold truth, our species acts like a spoiled brat who deserves all the shiny new toys.

Ahh, but I digress. I am to be focused on perception and not on all the indignities of humankind. If we look to the past, we see the purging and segregation of physically disabled individuals. In today's society, this would be considered horrific, although segregation does still occur, but it not as horrific as in the past. So, the root of our perception of disabled individuals is based around the past acts of purging and segregation. With the root defined as best as we can, we can move forward to erasing them from our current society, right? Only if things were that simple. The issue is figuring out how a minority creates a norm that the majority will not only accept but will act on. We can't all be famous and influence millions by tweeting about our clothing. Of course, there has be another way to influence the majority besides being a celebrity, or else, people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Ghandhi wouldn't exist.

I'll be stopping here for now. A small teaser of what is to come: What motivates people/tribes? TEDx Tribal Leadership

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