The way a person sees things and how they interpret a certain object or event will never be exactly how someone else sees or experiences that very same event. Visual perceptions are never identical across individuals in a group of people. They are often vastly different for many reasons.
The visual perception of any given situation will change depending on the lens, or the eyes through which they are viewed.
However, perspective is defined as “… a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”. Perspective is the result of all five of our senses combining with any preconceived notions we may harbor that come together and form our mental impression about an item or event.
There are many ‘old’ sayings about perspective. One example is, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ What one person sees as ugly or unappealing another may see as beautiful and alluring.
ARE THERE WITNESSES?
Perspective is particularly important when it comes to police actions and the countless videos documenting them. When a video is released to the public, the keyboard kings and queens are quick to judge, based solely on a single person’s point of view from a single angle from just one camera.
Empirical evidence and laboratory experiments have found that single events or videos can be viewed by 10 or 20 or even 50 different people. When asked to recount what they saw, there won’t two identical versions of what those people saw.
Individual perspectives are important. That is how we are able to develop our own opinions about a given topic or event when we did not personally witness it.
When a member of the public sees a violent encounter, whether lawful or otherwise, it can sometimes ‘shock the conscience.’
Violence is never pretty to watch. Plain and simple.
Too often, violence is used for evil purposes. Occasionally though, it is used to save those who are its victims. In law enforcement, we term this type of action, ‘Physical Force.’
When physical force is used by law enforcement to combat a threat or to take a person into custody, it is never pretty. Witnessing the use of force to gain control someone can appear terribly violent. It can be very upsetting for the average citizen to witness.
It can also appear necessary – even to the untrained eye.
Occasionally, it will appear excessive or extreme. Generally, it’s not that way at all. Most of the time, it is the reasonable force necessary to control and a person and take them into custody.
SHORT WAR STORY
I’ll tell you a story of the time I bought a car. I thought this thing was awesome. It was loaded down, power everything, leather-heated seats with a sun and moon roof. This car was it.
It was a Pontiac Aztec. Yes, an Aztec.
In most polls, the Aztec is number one (or close to) ugliest car ever made. In my eyes, I hit the jackpot. I couldn’t have been happier. But, all day long it remained one of the ugliest things on the road. It wasn’t until I got rid of the Aztec that I saw what everyone else did.
I came to learn, first-hand, how time and distance can completely change a person’s perception of an item or an event.
YES, LIFE IS REALLY LIKE THAT
Maybe the best example of this can be found by turning on the evening news. There are many sources: FOX, CNN, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC. The list seems endless. Watch them after some national event – like President Trump’s speech at the Fourth of July parade in Washington.
Each of these organizations, as well as their individual correspondents, have a unique opinion and view of everything. They rarely agree on anything. You could watch various recounts of the President and think they were talking about separate events, each different from the other. They see things from opposite ends of the spectrum and because of that they will always tell their viewers how they see it.
Frank Sinatra had a song, ‘Looking at the World Through Rose-Colored Glasses.’ This is a reference to the rosy or pink way some people view their world. I say “their world” because it is truly their perspective of the world in which they live.
Their perception is flavored by the preconceived notions that they harbor. The result is that they judge other people’s actions using those filters. They can condemn something or someone’s actions when others might reach totally different conclusions.
I read an article recently about how you see yourself. Your mental picture is only vision you have of yourself. Everyone else you encounter in life, (friend, family or stranger), has a vision of you they create in their mind based on their perspective and opinion of you. Therefore, there are multiple versions and visions of ‘you’ out there in the world today.
MAKING THEORY PRACTICAL
This same theory applies when people see an event unfold, whether it’s in a video or in person. Rookie police officers learn very quickly when they interview multiple witnesses of an event (like a car crash). These new cops learn to expect that each witness will say they saw and heard something different from anyone else.
The differences may be subtle, (i.e. height, weight, eye color, clothing description. etc.), but differences remain, none the less. This is because our brains sometime block out traumatic sights and sounds, or events entirely, in order to protect us. Each of our minds ‘see’ things differently.
There are other similar sayings like,
- ‘Seeing is believing’
- ‘I would have to see it to believe it’
- ‘I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes’
Just because we see it does it make it true? Or are we possibly only seeing what our mind’s eye expects us to see at that instant?
I’m guessing it’s the latter of the two.
In case I had any of you fooled, I am not a psychologist, nor I have I ever claimed to be one. To be sure, I am not offering any type of quantifiable diagnosis about the human mind.
This is purely opinion on my part. My opinion may differ from some or all of my readers. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong. It is just our uniquely human way of looking at things.
At the end of the day, this is MY perspective of what I am seeing.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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