At the time of the Sewol tragedy,a group of college students planned a festival and the religious sisters in charge wanted to change the program to one for reconciliation. In the column on the Electronic and Book World in the Catholic Times, the columnist wants us to use this situation to reflect on the word perception and its meaning.
sisters asked the 180
students what they wanted to do considering the disaster the nation was
dealing with. They told those who wanted to continue with the festival
to go to the basement auditorium.
They were hoping to see little movement, at least only
half, one third .... They were mistaken for without hesitation almost
all left for the basement. Only about 20 remained. And of those
20 were some that didn't enjoy the prospect of singing and dancing; this
group spent time in silence, conversation and meditating. While the
others enjoyed singing and dancing in the basement auditorium.
sisters alternatively spent time with each group coming and going, and
were able to determine the spirit of each group. Surprisingly, they
found the faces of the smaller group seemed to have more joy. They
were entering into themselves, hurting and sad but at the same time
showed great peace and joy. The students that were singing and dancing
also were enjoying their time together but
their joy was stimulated by something external and different in
kind from the other group. Dancing and singing, money and honor can
bring only temporary joy. Persons can be in pain, and sad, and yet can be at peace and have joy.
Perception in all these cases makes the difference.
Perception grasps the totality of the situation, knows what is
important, puts order in thought and comes to understanding. She
quotes one of the famous Korean philosophers of the past who maintained
perception was at the center of our mental faculties. We are able to
distinguish all the stimuli that come from the outside. When we hear,
and see, our faculty to perceive uncovers what is important. We look for
reasons and results, examine our
experiences, and express our emotions. When we read we
don't assign the knowledge to the store house but respond with
perception and emotion that becomes part of the basis for the way we see life.
when we hear a lecture or read a book one person is energized and
another person finds it boring. We are not all living in the same kind
of world. We respond to the same stimuli in different ways. How did the
students receive the news of the Sewol tragedy and perceive what
happened? Was it only news? Does having the festival mean the young
people will not have time to grieve? Or are we dealing with a
situation in which the young people see so many atrocities, and natural
disasters that they have become unfeeling?
something more than reading and seeing the news and having knowledge of a
situation. Perception is the meeting of sensation
and our experience, giving us meaning and understanding which
becomes the bases for our introspection and
contemplation. Perception does not mean to look upon the world as an
object of our perception but to meet and have direct contact with the
world. Isn't this why, she concludes, we say real experience is the experience of perception?