Mariner once heard a politician complain about the (liberal) New England states and that the fathers of our country should have just continued the forty-ninth parallel past the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and left New England to Canada. This happened some fifteen or twenty years ago; even then mariner knew that the forty-ninth parallel crossed into the Atlantic at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River just south of Newfoundland. Self-perception, whether of one’s importance or one’s knowledge of facts, is not a good view of reality. A lesson for all of us; if we are to represent reality, it must be only after a fact check.
Mariner mentions this story because today perception, in whatever form it will take, has replaced reality in its entirety. One of the bad things about perception is that it is short lived. Whether the presumption was useful or not, it quickly becomes useless. It is difficult to step out of one’s perceptions and see reality. Often, one’s immediate perception distorts historical perspective or situational reality. Some examples:
֎ Often, citizens today interpret the US Constitution as if it were written for today’s Internet world and its rapid travel options and its ability to know what’s happening in Winner, South Dakota in seconds, but that perception wasn’t even in the fantasy world of politicians in 1789.
> The fathers of our nation, who suddenly had most of a large continent to manage and states that were suspicious of federal power and jealous of other states if they had more influence, had to manage the situation with nothing more than travel by horse carriage or letters carried in that same horse carriage. Further, enemy nations were present on the continent and wanted to control the new wealth to be had. Certainly the perceptions of today and the perceptions of 1789 are vastly different.
> A well-known perception is the right to bear arms. What else would the fathers recommend since there was no army large enough or transportable enough to police the continent? Authorize the citizenry to defend themselves. Mariner notes the use of the word ‘bear’ implying the right to fight rather than simply to ‘own.’ Over the eons of history, Congress should have recognized the dangers of allowing this militarily important measure to continue in the Constitution but it did not and today guns kill more people than cars or disease – disregarding the realities of 1789. Mariner will not prosecute this case here but wants to demonstrate clearly that perception is not reality.
> “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all humans by their creator, and which governments are created to protect. Even as the document was created that ideological perception did not reflect reality: African Americans and Native Americans are humans, too. This is an example of how a perception can be deliberately applied knowing full well it is just a perception that would not hold up to a fact check.
֎ Perception is a cousin to prejudice. In many cases perception simply will be a misrepresentation of reality whereas prejudice has a vindictive side to it. Today, in this time of identity politics, prejudice helps its cousin more often than not.
> Donald’s base is a good example. The serious issue of wage suppression and disappearance of profit sharing began during the Reagan administration and has been sustained as a national economic policy by political conservatives, typically the Republican Party. The base, largely disgruntled democrats, perceived that their government had abandoned them; it was the “establishment” that was not protecting them. Given that Hillary had political baggage, did not campaign for the labor class, and proposed an uninspiring image of the future, she became a target of a perception (aided by prejudice) that defeating her would be vindication. They chose an outsider with no record to defend, and who spoke in vindictive terms.
If only the electorate would check the facts. Unfortunately, both news media and social media have no interest in facts, just market share.