Do you have to see it to believe it?

9 Jan

Is it true that you have to see it to believe it, or rather, do you have to believe it before you can see it?

~ Kobi Yamada, ever wonder

frosty window 2This had me stumped for awhile. As if one answer could hold all things! I decided to re-frame the question: What must you see to believe? What must you believe to see? Where are seeing and believing intertwined?

Incidentally, five full days is far too long to ponder an already potent question. I may have to adjust the timing if we do this post-a-question-and-then-answer-it thing again.

3-D Printer – This, I had to see to believe. Forget that my whole job is digital communications for a moment, and forget that my father chaired the math and computer science department at a Silicon Valley university while Apple was getting its’ sea legs. Okay? Let’s just say that when Kelly started talking about 3-D printers, I thought she was making it up. Until King Google confirmed for me that it was a thing. Did you know that a 3-D printer in Baltimore is making prosthetic hands for kids? Now that I’ve seen it (or at least seen a picture of it), I believe it. And wow!

God – Believe first. It’s a question of faith, right? It’s easy for me to see the world as random, without meaning or reason – but the world changes color when I open myself to god or spirit or goddess or being. I see more vividly then. At the same time, my faith is not described in scripture, and not described in how I was raised. I find god in myself, in the skies at sunrise, in the woods, in the ocean. In every person I meet, I see the spirit-which-connects-all-things. Not unlike the words of Ntozake Shange in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf: “i found god in myself / and i loved her / i loved her fiercely.” And the more I believe, the more I see.

Marriage Equality – I wanted to believe first, but I couldn’t. I wanted to believe that marriage equality would become the law of the land – of my land – in my lifetime. I hitched my wagon to some brilliant and playful advocates, organized receptions for marriage equality with wedding cakes and toasts and flowers thrown in the air, planned protests at City Hall, gifted urban commuters with little bottles of Vermont Maple Syrup for Valentine’s Day… And still, while I loved the romance of it all, and believed our families SHOULD enjoy all the benefits and responsibilities of legal marriage, I never really, truly, in my bones believed that it would come to pass. Legal recognition of my family, of families like mine, was something I needed to see before I could believe. And now we are married, Kelly and I. And now I’m a believer. In so many things.

Cooperative Ten-Year-Old – Do you feel me here? This, I must see to believe. Every time.

White Privilege – Here, I think seeing and believing are intertwined. Something shifted in me – in so many of us – when people in Ferguson spoke out… or started to be heard. Now I see white privilege everywhere, more than I saw it before. And I believe it more readily when it’s pointed out to me. My senses are heightened, and being the mom of a child of color is no small part of that. I see racism more readily, too. In the news – and in the everyday stories my colleagues and family and friends tell of driving while brown, of hailing (or trying to hail) cabs, of arriving at the hospital or ordering at a bar, being passed over, looked at twice, feared. None of this changed with Ferguson – but I paid less attention, took less responsibility, didn’t fully believe it was mine to fix before. It was too big. It still feels too big. But my belief in the power to change is stronger now. Making my vision sharper.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

It’s your turn. Any thoughts on the question above? Or on my response? Comment below or link to your blog.

Thank you!

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6 Responses to “Do you have to see it to believe it?”

  1. goodfamiliesdo January 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    Alright, here is mine! https://goodfamiliesdo.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/second-question/
    As for your response, someone else believed in the 3d printer and marriage equality before you were able to see it. That belief made it a reality.

    • RoiAnn January 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      You are so right! Thank you 🙂 I look forward to reading yours!

      • goodfamiliesdo January 10, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

        I had to make sure I wrote my response before reading yours!

  2. verilp January 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    When I saw the question you posted on Monday, I reframed the question and started pondering it. My reframing was vague, however. Yours is much cleaner and I appreciate both your reframing it and your thoughts about the new questions. However, I will stick with my first collection of thoughts and try to express them below.

    When I first thought about seeing and believing, my thoughts revolved around “love” — in all its forms. For me whether I have to see love to believe it or believe in love to see it depends on context, time, how open I am, and a variety of other factors, about which I have little or no awareness. For example, I have to believe in love in order to interpret seeing certain acts as expressions of love — what the Geeks call philios. Disciplining a child, giving unwanted advice to a friend or colleague, speaking out for justice in an unpopular arena are a few instances that come to mind.

    On the other hand, I have to “see” romantic love — what the Geeks call eros — in order to believe it. This is particularly significant personally at this stage of my life, four years after the death of my soul mate of twenty years, when I have had no expectations of ever “seeing” romantic love again. Happily, my expectations have been far exceeded by my relationship with the Great Awakener. But I had to “see” it, in this case “feel” it, in order to believe it.

    Thanks so much, RoiAnn, for your provocative posts. This is not easy. But then, few things worthwhile are easy!!

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