Ever wondered if the colors you were seeing were the same colors everybody else saw?
My favorite color is green. It has always been green since I was in my mother’s womb—I am convinced of it. Green is the color of life, the essence of any beautiful scenery. In fact, when I was young, I liked green so much that I could not understand why anyone’s favorite color was anything other than green. How could they like blue or yellow as much as green? These colors were just not on equal grounds.
My sister’s favorite color used to be red, and I just could not reconcile it in my mind why she would like red more than green. So to resolve this conundrum in my mind, I had this thought: What if what she was calling red was actually green? What if the color that we were all calling our favorite was actually the same color (i.e., my green), but we were just calling it by different names?
But how would I prove this thought? I could only experience the colors that I saw and I couldn’t jump into another person’s body to see what they saw. Even if I had an eye transplant, that organ would be in a new body, and who knew how that organ would function in a new environment? How could I be sure that my green was the same as my sister’s green? I had been taught to call green “green”, but how did my parents know what I saw?
I was old enough to know that if I pursued that thought further I could just go crazy. So I stopped and accepted, by faith, that what everyone called green was in fact the same color, and left it at that.
But was that not a freaky thought?
One of my personal concerns in life is the danger of self-deception. The catch is that I wouldn’t realize it if I were being deceived—it wouldn’t be called deception otherwise. I care about whether something is true or not. I care whether or not what I see is equal to my perception. I care whether or not my understanding about anything or any person is correct. I ask myself this question a lot: Am I blind? Am I seeing reality as it really is? Or is what I call reality (i.e., the reality of any situation) is some illusion I conjectured in my mind?
I don’t know how other people handle this, but for me, multiplicity of perspective from other people is crucial is gauging any situation. Most importantly though, is my relationship with God. One of my continuing prayers is for God to help me see clearly and to show where I am in the wrong. I don’t think the question of reality can be answered without touching the issue of faith, just like we can never be sure of colors without putting some faith in a collective claim or reality. You can measure wavelengths, but you still can’t see what another person sees.
If there’s anything close to a conclusion I’ve made regarding this issue, it would be this: Your chance of being self-deceived is inversely proportional to your openness to be wrong (and be shown that you are wrong).