[FOUNTAIN]Sight can offer many perspectives“To see I was born, To look is my call, To the tower sworn, I delight in all. I glance out far, And see what is near... You blessed eyes, What you saw everywhere,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in “Faust.” In the book completed right before his death, the German writer discussed the meaning of the universe and life he had explored with his eyes.
Although Faust loses his sight when he is 100 years old, his inner eyes are even more glowing as he has comprehended the truth after all his suffering and wandering.
An eye is a tool of perception. It is the most advanced of the sensory organs. Ancient Greek philosopher Herakleitos had said that eyes were more reliable witnesses than ears. However, not everyone sees the same thing after looking at the same thing with their eyes. Let’s look at an experiment by the University of Michigan on foreign news on Tuesday.
When the researchers provided a picture of a leopard in a forest, the eyes of the American students who are European descendants were set on the leopard. Chinese-American students observed the background, and then looked at the leopard, and turned their eyes to the background again.
When groups of Americans and Japanese were shown a picture of an underwater scene and asked what they had seen, the Americans said they saw three trout. However, the Japanese described the color and flow of the water and the pebbles on the bottom and then mentioned the trout. The eyes of Western and Eastern people work very differently.
The researchers analyzed that the Westerners tended to focus on the objects while the Easterners were more concerned with the overall context. When offering tea to others, Americans ask, “more tea?” while Chinese say, “Drink more?” The Western world looks at the world from the viewpoint of nouns while the Eastern world views the world from the point of verbs.
There is no need to dispute which perspective is better. What is important is the judgment and insight. Looking at an old mansion covered with green moss, some will want to renovate or rebuild the house while others see the remains of history. Some eyes would consider money a purpose of life, but other eyes agree with American writer O Henry, who wrote in one of his short stories that money was only one-twelfth of life.
What do the eyes of our leader see? He might only see the crooked trees in the forest of the past. Why can’t he climb the tower and look into the future?
He has proclaimed that future moves will be more political. However, opening the eyes to the economy and public welfare would be more befitting his duty.
by Lee Sang-il
The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.