Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

On Perspective

Posted 05/14/2018 by Logan Cecil

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In the roughly 100,000 years that our modern species of hominid has existed on this planet, an estimated 108 billion people have ever lived. Of this 108 billion, only 536 have ever left the loving arms of our atmosphere, and of that 536, a mere 12 individuals have had the opportunity to step foot on a celestial body other than Earth.

As a species, a race, and a collective society, we have only ever known one planet. Earth consists of roughly fifty million square miles of land that is not covered in water. For the previously mentioned 100,000 years that the modern human has existed on Earth, this land has been the entire extent of our shared existence; every baby born, every dream dreamt, every emotion experienced has taken place in the same fifty million square miles.

With the limitations of our physical environment in mind, an argument can be made that our only haven from the grasps of finiteness is found within our minds. Within every healthy brain is the potential for endless understanding. Using this reasoning, the only borders, the only boundaries, the only limits on our creativity, and by extension, our potential are the biases and prejudices we hold towards concepts. By refusing to accept or attempt to comprehend the things that we find controversial, we wall off a continent of perspective that could lead us to new understanding. Why, then, do we discriminate against our own kind based on their skin tone? Why do we fight and kill one another over disputes caused by books written twenty-plus generations before we were conceived?

Humanity seems to be innately drawn towards anti-progress, that is the propagation of ideologies and mindsets that limit and restrain our societal potential. Throughout history, the greatest and most well-known are remembered for being variants; we do not praise Galileo for his steadfast faith and trust in the establishment, rather we applaud him for taking a stand in opposition. By opening our mental borders to criticisms of the very values that define us, we open our intellectual areas up to new perspectives. Even if we don’t change our own beliefs, comprehending another person’s ideological dogma expands the range of our own mental environment. As famed 18th-century poet William Blake put it, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

Take this information as you will. To some, certain beliefs instilled in them from childhood fashion their outlook on society, and with that, the many strains of knowledge that are stigmatized by their beliefs. These people will live their entire lives oblivious to knowledge that could change them for the better. Do not let yourself be defined by your biases, do not let your mental blocks hold you back from true, genuine understanding, but most importantly, do not let physical boundaries influence your mental capacity. Be true, be genuine, and never stop striving to be a better person.