Author Archives: Charlie Balfour

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"Perception is Truth"

“I am not a kitten; I am, in fact, a tiger. You cannot tell me otherwise!”

My seventh grade teacher had a poster of a kitten looking at its reflection in rippled water hanging in her classroom. In bold letters it read “Perception is Truth.” My twelve year old mind found comfort in this, much the same as people find quotes from celebrities comforting. I did not really understand it, nor did I take the time to think about it. It sounded intelligent and the kitten was cute, so I adopted it as a general philosophy.

I now wonder what the creator’s rationale was for combining the kitten picture with the quote. Though we saw the same kitten in its reflection, perhaps the kitten saw something different. Lets say it saw a lion. We could say that it identified as a lion, and that it even felt like a lion. It wanted to be the featured attraction at a zoo. In the kittens own perception, it is a lion.

We, however, do not see a lion; we see a kitten. In our perception, it is a kitten.

It cannot be both a lion and a kitten at the same time. Both perceptions cannot be true. Based on the creator’s argument, however, we have no grounds to argue that the kitten is a kitten and not, in fact, a lion. The kitten’s perception is as true as ours. A child may look at the poster and exclaim “Look at the tiger!” We then have a creature that is a kitten, a lion, and a tiger. This may go on, and in the end no one really knows what it is.

But, of course, we do. We know its a kitten because we have seen thousands of kittens and they all look relatively the same. We also know lions and tigers and can declare with authority “That, little child, is not a tiger but a kitten!” If we went to the zoo where the kitten was featured as a lion, we would feel angry and betrayed. “That is not a lion,” one onlooker says. “It is merely a common kitten.” This actually happened, but rather it was a Tibetan mastiff being displayed as an African lion. Visitors to the Chinese zoo were outraged. They felt cheated. Nobody likes to be lied to.

We inherently know that perception is not truth. Truth exists apart from perception. A kitten and Tibetan mastiff are both not lions, even though they or someone else may think they are.

Why Indiana Jones is Wrong About Faith

I love a good action movie. The original trilogy of Indiana Jones is no exception. There is good acting, a wonderful score and plenty of chutzpah. Together, these elements great an entertaining movie. There is more to them than explosions though. Indy, as an archeologist, has interactions with the supernatural in all three films. He sees the power of the ark of the covenant. He witnesses the power of the occult. He sees the consequences of drinking from the Holy Grail.

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Why You Should Talk To You Children About Their Favorite Shows

Children are far from innocent. I learned this when I volunteered at my church’s Super Bowl party last year, and I was put in charge of the inflatable football throw. I initially left the children to sort themselves out. This was a horrible idea. Two developments happened. First, the group of children created chaos. They were pushing and shoving each other to grab a football and then jumping onto the inflatable if they did not get one. After a few minutes of this, the older children began to create order. They decided that they would throw the football as many times as they would like, and leave everyone else in the lurch.

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Two Ways Reading Helps You Think

Thinking is at a low. Though we have more information available to us than any other time in the world, we find ourselves immersed in a land of polarizing ideologies. People join a camp of belief and stake their ground, even though they do not understand what they are claiming. The only remedy for this is to develop our minds and help ourselves become true thinkers. Only then can we say that an opinion is our own.

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Kung Fu Fighting

I am afraid to go to China. I watched The Karate Kid (2010), and now I know I won’t be able to defend myself when a band of children jump me. One scene in particular stands out, and this is when Dre Parker is confronted by his bullies in the street. When Mr. Han comes to Dre’s defense, the viewer sees that these kids are for real. Mr. Han, a Kung Fu master, has to pull out his best moves to defend himself and Dre against these middle schoolers’ vicious onslaught of Kung Fu mania. My skills are not nearly as developed as Mr. Han’s, –I am more Po than Kung Fu Panda– and I would easily be disposed of and tossed into a garbage can by this band of prepubescent sixth graders.

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Jurassic Park Blog

Mass Media and Jurassic Park

Michael Crichton’s The Lost World was printed in 1995, right at the onset of the age of the internet. Through his character Ian Malcolm, Crichton predicts the effect that the internet will have upon humanity. Continue reading

Why I Hate Nick Carraway

In a story full of unpalatable characters, Nick Carraway stands out as the most repulsive. He is the narrator and main character of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Every other character has a more pronounced character flaw; Tom Buchanan’s infidelity, Daisy Buchanan’s shallowness, Jordan Baker’s egocentricity, and Jay Gatsby’s phoniness. The reader learns of these through the observations of Nick, who tells the story as a memoir of his summer in West Egg in 1922. Nick’s flaw is not as glaring. He propels the narrative forward in one way; he is the person who can connect Gatsby with his desire: Daisy. Other than this, he is a passenger in the lives of the others: a facilitator and observer who displays a great apathy toward the evil which he surrounds himself with. Continue reading

Equality in To Kill A Mockingbird

Equality is often in the news today. Headlines abound about racial inequality in the justice system. Articles point out that African American males far out number white males in the prison system, and that unjust police practices and use of excessive force are often used on them. The LGBT movement is calling for marital-equality. The poor are protesting for income equality. Activists are rallying for gender equality. In all the rallying, all the discussing, all the legislating, there is a widespread belief that all should be equal. But what is equality? Continue reading