Reality versus Perceptions

What is reality and how do our perceptions change? Sometimes it comes with age and experience and other times it’s just plain common sense. Is society so blinkered these days where reality seems so abhorrent and sad that people have to create perceptions to survive?

Who wants reality when they can live in a bubble and pretend that their lives can be like celebrities or reality television stars? Reality shows are staged and scripted by prompts; people don’t really live like that and if it gets boring or people don’t cooperate they ‘leave’ the show.

The problem is the media hypes reality to be something it’s not, and behind closed doors the persona of most people is in fact very normal and boring. Famous models and actresses do walk around without makeup and politicians and actors do take public transport. Reality is not always exciting, but is about survival and being as happy and content as possible. The media tempts and goads us to buy bigger houses, buy expensive clothes, and to eat out at fancy restaurants. If the average person can do, then we all can, can’t we is the message they portray. In society we are perceived as equal, but it’s human nature where you will always find someone who wants to be bigger and better than a sibling, neighbors, or friends. No one will admit it, but it’s true.

Our perceptions change when we yearn for something that we are led to believe we can be or have. We want to believe it’s possible, or some choose to only see what they want to see. Many don’t want to know about the homeless street people (thinking it’s their own fault) or the single parent working two minimum wage jobs, or that the elderly maybe lonely and need help. We are led to believe that these things are taken care of, but in reality they are not. What if it was you?

Reality is seen as depressing and boring, but is honest and is how many people do live or survive in this world. People do struggle to put food on the table and live hand to mouth, racism and sexism still exists despite the laws making it illegal, and people do lie and cheat. Accepting reality and acknowledging it is much better than pretending it doesn’t happen, yet the reality for the minority is that their lives can be out of touch for the masses. Even the celebrity life can be a façade—what is perceived and what is reality are two different things. The sibling of a famous actor told me that they saved their air miles to travel, even though they are a multi-millionaire. I remember well-known comedian traveling on the bus standing next to me, and a model and pop star were told that they had to give up the two tables they were using and to let me have one. That’s reality, what many don’t see.

Society is built up on materialism, and humanity, in helping others and protecting nature comes further down the list. What we perceive makes us happy, but how real is it? Are you brave enough to see reality in humanity for what it really is, or is it easier to create your own perceptions?

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Losing and Regaining Faith

There will be times in an incarnation when self-doubt rears its head, or there are instances where you question things and lose your Faith. It can be in humanity, yourself, or both. I was inspired to write this as someone commented that they were spiritually tired and when that happens you can lose Faith. I do feel this is normal, because our Faith does need testing at times, when we get complacent or take things for granted. It can even happen when neither of those things takes place. I see it as if you on a voyage and lost at sea, hoping and fighting to find your way back to safety or what is familiar.

No one can tell you how you should feel and that you are wrong or faithless, because Faith can waver; one day you maybe strong, and weaker another. You must have Faith in yourself first, then that can stretch to others and humanity. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, when humans are not perfect. The media and society does create a stereotype that is an idealistic framework, but these model citizens don’t exist, and those that do, only appear for a short period of time. Life and a Soul incarnation is about learning and growing and that means developing your Faith too.

We will all have days where we question, ‘Have I done enough, could I have done more?’ or ‘What can I do to make things better?’ The lesson is you can only do what you can, some things are beyond our control, when things haven’t gone as they should have (despite perfect planning), shows us that we cannot plan everything, and sometimes bad things do happen to good people. We lose Faith because we expect things, and at times it doesn’t seem fair. That’s when you question Faith; you’re a good person but luck and good things don’t come your way, but someone you know who is selfish and mean gets a new job and gets to travel round the world. It’s not always fair, and one can question Faith if you never seem to get a break even if you are grateful for what you have.

I lose Faith in humanity when I see people in the corporate world turn a blind eye to the façades they create, lies they justify, and others that are harmed, or when people fail to help a fellow being in need because they are afraid of getting hurt or sued. The worst is when bystanders or security guards watch people being attacked and they choose not to step in, or seeing someone being bullied and turning a blind eye. These are only things one can counteract by staying true to yourself and retaining your integrity. Lead by example and do not follow others. When you lose Faith in yourself, often it is when you are at a crossroads of what you wish to do and what you want to do. You question whether you are being selfish and self-indulgent, sensible, or practical? It’s a time when your questions aren’t being answered, but they will later, or maybe you need to ask different questions?

Having Faith requires trust, and trust takes time to gain and moments to lose. On the journey of life, many of us will be ‘lost at sea’ or find ourselves on an uncomfortable road. It’s a challenge, so when we do regain our Faith, we are more prepared for the times when things are difficult or unclear. When that happens our Faith does grow, and that is part of Soul Growth.

Respect and Manners

The days of sending a letter to The Editor are a distant memory as each online story or site has a comments section or a forum to discuss and express your opinions.

At times I find it interesting to see the local view on a news story, then horrified at some of the racist, narrow mined or abusive comments people make. I believe in free speech, but also if you can’t say it to someone’s face then hiding behind a computer screen is simply cowardly.

I find Yahoo the worst and they never seem to moderate their comments, it would cost too much, but the site has a reputation for inaccurate stories and the fact people know the comments aren’t always monitored opens it up for abuse. Newspaper sites tend to be monitored and inappropriate posts removed. Then there are trolls, on forums and in chat rooms. I wonder why people do it? Have they nothing better to do with their time and I am a firm believer of what you put out there you will get back. So writing abusive comments will come back on you at some point.

I contribute to some forums and comments when I feel the need, but many get lost in a sea of rantings and spam. One thing it does allow is for people to open up and to express themselves, however, I am thinking a private journal may be more apt for some of the things I read.

People should respect each others opinions and I do like to see what others think; some are experiences that make me think and others allow me to realize there maybe more ignorant people out there with no manners or respect for humanity. The internet has created a platform for all to voice their opinions, though I think there are some that are harmful and should be kept under wraps. The problem is people do not take responsibility for their actions or behavior, online or in person. Each person has a responsibility not to harm others, physically, mentally or verbally. These are the unspoken laws of nature and humanity, ones that people ignore or forget.

 

Homelessness: An unnecessary evil or fate?

Work maybe a necessary evil, but homelessness is one that should not exist, yet after centuries it remains a dark side of human society. There are empty buildings that could keep people warm and so much food is wasted, yet is destroyed in fear that someone may sue for food poisoning. These are basics every human should have a right to and the solutions exist, however, laws prevent them from being actioned or is it apathy? At Christmas we see more charity towards the homeless as many die in the cold, but this is not a seasonal issue, but one society refuses to address in this globalized and materialistic world.

In the Victorian era many people were homeless, they had the workhouses and the churches to help those that were homeless and needed poor relief and alms. Today, we have social welfare that is supposed to help people get off the street and stay off the streets. The stigma of being homeless survives in this modern world of globalization, where money is given to wars and Third world countries that don’t invest in their own people. How is that right?

In Florida, USA, they segregate the homeless where a recent case of a volunteer and priests were arrested for handing out meals to the homeless on a beach. The state wanted to keep the homeless out of sight, by regulating where free meals could be distributed. They are already stigmatized and are further humiliated by being forced to receive aid under certain conditions dictated by the authorities to ‘hide’ the embarrassment of the homeless to the tourists.

In the Silicon Valley, one the homeless camps nicknamed, ‘The Jungle’ has been destroyed and all residents told to move or to be arrested. The area is one of the most affluent in the USA and again is an embarrassment to the authorities. The fact is, homeless exists, but it doesn’t have to.

I had a debate with someone who claimed people choose to be homeless, as they don’t want the responsibility of bills and a job. There maybe a few like that, but people don’t choose to sleep on a bench or on the ground open to attack in the cold. Some have no choice; they have lost their home, they are running away from abuse or perhaps a parent or partner has forced them leave.

Having no home or a place to be is unsettling and it’s hard to get yourself back on your feet. It doesn’t matter how educated you are or even famous, several celebrities have found themselves homeless after losing all their money. Many are runaway children either thrown out by parents or escaping abuse, others maybe be drug addicts or alcoholics that have lost everything due to their addiction or war veterans who can’t find a job and are left on the streets to survive.

How do I know? I worked one Christmas on a project to help the homeless, I worked six days and met many ‘guests’ and people who used to be ‘guests’ and who had managed to get their life back on track. I ran a shelter with Bob, he used to be homeless after he left prison and told me his experiences. I was humbled and was never scared to be with him and learned we can never judge someone by how they look. Among some of the ‘guests’ I talked with were divorced men who lost everything and people who admitted they had made mistakes and wanted another chance at life. Homelessness can happen to anyone. It happened to me.

There are the hidden homeless, those who couch surf and live hand to mouth, relying on the kindness of friends. It’s not a choice, but we do make mistakes, as we are human. Having a roof over your head and food is a basic human necessity. When I did get my own place, I have always like Dr. Barnardo made sure that my sofa or floor with a sleeping bag was available to any friends who needed it. Even if the timing wasn’t the best, I have been there and a small inconvenience is nothing compared to what someone who is homeless goes through mentally and physically.

People try to avoid the homeless in the street, but they are humans, part of society. There are some con artists too, so generally I will buy a meal deal, sandwich, pie and a drink for them so they will have at least one hot meal a day if I can. I can’t say how many months in my life I have survived on peanut butter sandwiches and a pot of ramen noodles, but homelessness should be extinct, but this social crime is allowed to persist and I hope one day it will be eradicated forever.

Philosophical Ponderings

I remember as a nine-year-old pondering why do we exist? I always had questions, but observed people and knew when to ask and when not to. Instead, I would carry around my books and find a corner to read when the adults around me were too busy. Yes, I had the dolls to play with and cuddly toys, but I was immersed in my stamp collection and books. In those days, it was Ponder and William, Little Miss Pepperpot, the Moomins, The Chronicles of Narnia and the Dragon’s Quest. As a member of the Puffin Club (now sadly defunct) I had my bookplates, which I proudly put in all my books.

“Why am I here?” I would ask myself and “What am I doing?” I was a loner, reading and writing everything down. I could read people, but my innocence was soon shattered when I saw the unpleasant side of people. There was little I could do, and I couldn’t understand why or how people could be so mean. Now, I know it’s human nature, when people feel they need power, they make others look small to make themselves look and feel better. Back then, I was a four-year-old at kindergarten and I learned my lessons early on. Even now as as adult, I am perplexed when I encounter people determined to boost their ego at the expense of others. I don’t let them; sometimes I walk away or I find an appropriate way to confront and address the matter as diplomatically as possible. The truth is some people aren’t interested, they don’t want to listen and without their ego boosted their self-esteem diminishes. It’s their issue and not yours and they have to discover this themselves. Knowing and understanding why people behave as they do can help you deal with situations more effectively.

Throughout life, I look at all sides of an argument or discussion, there are always at least two sides to a story, often more and I learned that what one person sees or hears, another sees and hears something completely different. How can that be when things are so obvious?

An adult once gave me some good advice, “Remember people will not see things as you do or will be able to do things as well as you.” The advice came from a White Witch as she read my palm, as my teenage self smiled and thanked her and I have never forgotten those words.

Is it a gift? Perhaps, the ability and perception to see things from multiple viewpoints and understand them is something I thought everyone was capable of. I realize that it is not the case. Through experience we can help others see things through others eyes, by articulating the differences and explaining the reasoning, thus create harmony and find resolutions. A negotiator or peacemaker? The philosophy is to be fair, just and unprejudiced.

A Philosopher to me is someone who can see the reason behind the logic and reactions—conflicts can be resolved by finding common ground and helping others to understand how the other party thinks and feels. There are different types of Philosophers, all with their own set of beliefs and morals. They expound theories and concepts of how society and humanity ought to be, what should work and what won’t. I’m a realistic Philosopher, I’ve seen human nature at its best and at its worst and I’m sure I will encounter more. Herein is my philosophical expedition…