By Robert Z. Apostol
Very often we see and hear tremendous objects in this wonderful world of ours. And we capture the good, the true and the beautiful when we discern the gifts that envelop this marvelous universe that we proudly designate as our habitat.
Such perceptions are gleaned from mental images as well as physical sensation, interpreted in the light of our human experience. We are fortunate to have such a power, a precious human gift.
We must be aware that these perceptions only humans are capable of truly understanding. This enables us to enjoy this environment. Every bit of this is simply wonderful!
Consider the sights by which we are overwhelmed by nature — from the Grand Canyon to the Swiss Alps. These, of course, are translated by artists into works of art. Few have not repeatedly admired — in nature as well as the canvas — the exotic Glacier National Park.
Let us not forget the great musical renditions produced by notable composers such as Franz Schubert immortalized by “The Unfinished Symphony” and Amadeus Mozart known by music-lovers for the entertaining “The Marriage of Figaro.”
Then we have likewise heard famous speeches by renowned leaders like John F. Kennedy whose profound utterance suggesting all Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” That generated some of the altruism by many who joined the Peace Corps he founded.
Recall Franklin Roosevelt’s classic, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” which is deeply riveted in the minds of many who are otherwise stricken by the spirit of passivity. Relevant then and now by those who suggest, “What would others say or think if you did thus or so?”
Regrettably, though, there are negative aspects we may be acutely aware about perceptions. Perhaps one of the most prevalent are what we may experience among those in our midst. There may not be many who have not observed either phoniness or hypocrisy.
Speaking of honesty or authenticity, there are some who have the proclivity of erroneously perceiving attitudes of those with whom they work, largely due to their looks of cultural background, that we may glean from exposure to peoples of other countries.
One blatant instance with which this writer has acquired a modicum of familiarity is the expression of emotion, demonstrated by friends and relatives in Spain as well as people in the Baltic countries. Unfortunately, this tradition of emotive interaction is openly suppressed by the anglo-saxon mentality that decidedly frowns on any emotive expression, at times even in a display of eclat! Actually such an act of omission can be observed in the absence of compassion for the sick.
The trouble with such a suppression of emotion is that our disposition to convey such emotions is needed and conducive to our mind/body interaction, which — as some may not know — is embedded in the character of a human person.
As a matter of fact, only with such an emotional intersection can an individual demonstrate the inevitable and impressive Horatian dictum that urges all, Carpe diem! (freely translated, “Capture the spirit of life!”).
We can’t really suppress emotions and ignore perceptions as long as we know that we are not disembodies spirits.
Dr. Robert Z. Apostol served on the faculties of Loyola University of Chicago and Creighton University, and has traveled extensively to more than 50 countries. He lives in Wisconsin.