is seeing believing, or believing seeing?

We’re taught – so often – that something must be real because ‘we saw it with our own eyes’ . So called empirical evidence beats belief or theory any day. But what influence does what we believe at the time have on what we see – or what we think we see?

For example, today (20th of July) BBC News 24 announced that street crime in Britain had gone up by 8%. And they hauled in a police spokesman to talk about that.Just about that. During the interview the interviewer tolled out another figure of gloom: 23% increase in drug offences. At least, i think it was drug offences. I was too busy trying to find the sackcloth and ashes. 8%?!! 23%?! what is the matter with this country?

Then I remembered. I’d read an article in the Guardian earlier on which said that:

  • Total recorded crime had dropped
  • murder rate for england and wales had shown a sustained drop for the first time since the 60’s
  • sexual offences had stayed static; as had violence against the person.

No mention of all that on the Beeb. In fact, there was even the (usual) question: ‘do you think we should have longer sentences – and pack in even more people into already overcrowded jails?’ God help us. Not only are we being overun by bad people, we’ve got no place to put them either.

So back to my first question? What would I have seen if I had believed the Beeb? A place that is getting more dangerous, perhaps. Certainly a place with no good news on the home front. How would that have influenced the way I felt about/saw/regarded hoodies/ white people/black people/ immigrants/ locals; to say nothing of the Police, the Home Office and the government?

What I believe – or what I allow others to persuade me to believe – affects how I see. And how I see, affects what I see. Which, of course, affects, how I feel and relate to the world. So,in my experience, we each create our own world: it’s as big or small, petty or generous according to what we choose to see.

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