In life#039;s perception puzzle, I#039;m looking for the good image

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2003

In school the little visual perception puzzles always fascinated me. Remember the ones?

Usually the puzzles consisted of a small business card with a black and white drawing. The question beneath it was: Do you see the beautiful young woman or the old hag?

Of course it was a bit of a trick, because both images were carefully drawn into one image. With a little concentration, both images could be discerned, though one always seemed to come into focus a bit quicker than the other.

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Why is it we often see what we want to see or what is easiest to see? It seems one's outlook is everything.

Think positive thoughts and good things happen. Worry about potential pitfalls and you're certain to find each one of them.

This certainly applies to our self-perceptions, but it especially applies to what we see and perceive in others.

The way in which we perceive one another has certainly changed since our world has become gripped with terror.

With the threat of another terrorist attack heavy on our hearts, our minds kick into overdrive. We see potential evil in everything and begin to have suspicions about everything.

How can we expect not to do so after our perceived sense of peace was shattered by previously unimaginable acts?

As we look at our friends and neighbors a little more closely, unfortunately many of us have begun judging the human book by its cover.

We see people who look of Middle Eastern descent, and we become edgy.

How many of us would feel uncomfortable sitting next to a young Arab man on an airplane?

It's horrible to admit it to ourselves, but many of us retain a certain uneasiness, if not outright fear, with Arabs.

Talking with a friend recently, neither of us was sure how we would handle the airplane situation if we were confronted by it.

The scenario was interesting and began to consume my thoughts.

What would I do? My parents raised me to love all people, regardless of color. Heck, even the song drilled in my head in several years of Vacation Bible School explained it:

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the children of the world.

For a split second I thought, "Well, maybe that's true, but whoever wrote that song didn't see those buildings fall down on Sept. 11."

But He did.

God -- whether you call him God, Christ, Yahweh or Allah -- sees everything. Or at least that's my belief.

And, here's when another lesson from childhood popped into my head. I remember my mother teaching me the Golden Rule in a roundabout way. She explained God was all around us. He was, in fact, in each of us.

Because of this, Mom said, we must always treat each other as we'd treat God. Besides, she said, we never know when he's coming back in human form.

It made pretty good sense to me back then. And it applies pretty well today, too.

A good lesson when we catch ourselves seeing something -- or someone -- that isn't there.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to