On Exploring Light

The Exploring series aims at taking a look at a topic through a wonderful video. The previous two posts  examined the wonder of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and the inspiring mind … but today is light.

Light is a necessity for biological relationships, yet to humans it’s more than luminescence that stimulates sight. Light is a metaphor for understanding  a problem, a viewpoint, a context, and yes – even an angle. Light is on the outside and the inside … and to some even see it as eternal.

Think about light as you watch this video, and then share your thoughts after watching.

On Context

Context, the events setting; the circumstances in which an event occurs; the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage that determines its meaning (The Free Dictionary)

Context is an interesting word as it conveys the situation in which the text/statement occurred. I think of context as the setting where the content interacts with the observer.

I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I realize that many use its text out of context, thus aiding to a misinterpretation by many. Whether it’s the verses preceding and following, or the understanding of the writers intent and the situation at the time, all of this is part of context. I also imagine this is also true across texts of other religions besides Christianity.

In the image to the right, do you initially see the old lady or the young lady? Whichever, can you see the other? Would you have even considered the other if I didn’t mention it? Besides context, the observer’s perception influences their context of an event. A person sometimes is so influenced by what they initial observe, they fail to open their mind for other observations. Besides the surrounding context, the initial perception and subsequent interpretation influences a personal point of view.

The observer also brings their own experiences and biases to the interpretation table. The news media is simply one example. With all the talk about media bias, how many of us have a preferred media source based on their delivery of the information we want to hear? In other words, we tend to assemble information into a favorable and similar explanation (and presumably agreeable) over the complex, unfamiliar, and disagreeable.

All this brings me to the current election season. Politicians make statements, and each has a particular context. Good reporters will also set the context of that statement, yet with the proliferation in electronic media, I wonder how many fail to set the context or rely on their own perceptions and biases to set a context favoring their position?

So that leaves the observers – the ones who need to judge the statement based on the context – but can the observer make a judgment without (or at least limiting) their bias?

In the recent Florida primary, reports indicate that over 90% of the political ads were negative. Given the current political climate and role of Super PAC money, in the days ahead the parties, the candidates, and the supportive minions will inundate Americans with statements taken out of context and planted in the incorrect context, thus deliver false information in order to gain votes.

While the majority of voters will judge the information on their individual perceptions and biases, including their own sense of right and wrong, who will do the research to sort through the piles of crap? Better yet, if found, who will listen?

PS: Associated past posts applicable to this topic”

On Romney: Context and Integrity

I try to watch ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was a guest on June 14th and he caught my attention with this subtle exchange with the host concerning a nuclear Iran. As a follow-up to a recent post about context, I decided to check the necessary transcripts.

The Interview
ROMNEY: And one aspect of what the president said may have been well received in Iran, but I think it was poorly received in Israel and around the world. And that’s when — well, actually, he made a 180-degree flip from what he had said during the campaign. During the campaign, when he spoke to AIPAC, he said he would do everything in his power to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. And then he went to Cairo and said that no single nation should have the ability to deny another nation the right to have a nuclear weapon. That is an 180-degree flip of a dangerous nature. I’m sure it was welcome in many streets in the Arab world and in the world that’s most — include the Persian world, Iran as well. But that’s not right for America. That’s not right for world security.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe the administration has said that they believe that Iran could have the right to nuclear power with appropriate safeguards, but not a nuclear weapon.

ROMNEY: We don’t have any question about nuclear power, and that was not the statement that the president made that was most offensive. It was his statement that no single nation should have the ability to deny another nation the right to nuclear weaponry.

President Obama in Cairo
OBAMA: It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

A Frank Angle
This is a good example of how people take words out of context in order to apply meaning for their own benefit. Governor, as you continue to keep your name in the forefront for 2012, you must do much better than that to get not only my vote, but the vote of those who decide elections – independent moderates. Then again, maybe you don’t want our vote.

On Pausing for Context

The Internet is a wonderful source of information. Whether useful or not, factual or misinformation, opinion or fact, biased or unbiased, or humorous or serious, it is up to users to sort through this informational quagmire.

At one time or another and whether intentional or not, everyone is probably guilty of taking bits of information out of context. In this information world of snippets, context is more important to we realize.

YouTube is an endless vault of video snippets over a vast array of topics. I came across an amusing video, and since the event happened in my friend’s hometown during our college years, I asked him if he remembered it. Since he hadn’t, it sent him the link. I also bookmarked the link as a possible video for a future post, but then I discovered the words of Paul Harvey – the rest of the story.

The video rekindled my friend’s memory and he told me about the event figuring I didn’t know – how although full of laughs on the surface, yet one of torture and sadness when examining the full context of the event. With that knowledge in hand, I found a news article that looked back at both the event and the life thereafter of the one involved.

With the information I now know, there’s no way I could embed the video in one of my posts. But in respect to the person involved in the video, I can encourage others to beware of context as things may not be as they appear – especially in the light of full context. Besides, we know how politicians and the media are great examples of taking things out of context. Yes, some of us still yearn for integrity.