Several years ago my vision clinic recommended a test for low vision. I went ahead and was checked. Thankfully, I had no significant symptoms of that severe visual impairment. (The term “low vision” seems like an odd misnomer, and I can’t quite wrap my mind around it.)
While cleaning the lenses on my eyeglasses last night, I remembered low vision again. Then, after parking the spectacles on my ears and nose, I contemplated the desktop wallpaper on my computer monitor–a NASA photograph of Saturn. Soon a new term came to mind–“high vision”.
High vision would be a laudable condition to have. People with normal sight, low vision, or no eyesight could have high vision because high vision would not be limited to the capabilities of our eyes. I remembered the famous Helen Keller quote, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
In order to live a satisfying life, it is important to have imagination and the ability to embrace a positive, inclusive vision about oneself and the world. It’s helpful to be hopeful for the greatest benefit for everyone involved in the business of living.
At the same time this vision is not a demand that people should live the way I think they should live nor someone else’s demand that I should live the way they think I should live. With this consideration in mind, freedom would not devolve into crude tyranny or oppressive theocracy.
As the world at large stands now, I tend to agree with my favorite musician/composer Jean-Michel Jarre. “We have lost our vision for the future. Before, we say, ‘Nothing will be the same. Cars will fly, and we go to the end of the universe.’ We have this kind of naive but exciting idea of the future. Now, the vision has been reduced to ways to select our garbage and how to survive global warming.”
There is a troubling tendency about some dreams of the future. That is the idea of pursuing success at any cost. This causes society to turn in on itself and destroy inclusivity and compassion. In other words, greed and exclusivity are symptoms of mental short-sightedness or mental low vision. This condition leads to conflict and overall suffering.
It’s helpful to carefully ponder our visions because positive vision is more nuanced than just wanting the world to conform to our ideals and modes of behavior. What might seem like heaven to me might seem like hell to you or vice versa. If a version of a “perfect world” is incompatible with compassion, implementation of that version becomes imposition of dogma and belief. Freedom gets swept away in the current of revolution. Mandatory obedience to ideals and doctrine is political or religious tyranny. Ultimately there will be backlash along with more conflict and suffering.
How do we resolve the conundrum of moral ideals that please some people and horrify other people without becoming an unsatisfying mish-mash for all people? For aeons, theologians and philosophers have not successfully resolved this problem to everyone’s satisfaction.
My own opinion is that each individual can choose to create a vision of the best version of her/himself and be open to refocusing and updating that vision from time to time when new evidence and situations come into view. Each individual can envision how her/his actions and speech affect the world. Do one’s thoughts, words, and actions mesh helpfully or harmfully in this interconnected world? Each individual can reassess her/his beliefs, opinions, and ideals regularly.
Each person should be free to live their lives the best way they continually learn how to live a satisfying life or not. Of course, this is just my opinion.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the Ancient Greek general and historian Thucydides. “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”