This is not a testimonial for EnChroma, nor a recounting of someone using it for the first time. Though, I am sure you have all seen the tear-filled videos, where the colorblind individual is first amazed at all the colors they have never known to exist coming to light, the colors that were once hidden from their very perception come flooding in and shortly after, the tears come flooding out. I am mesmerized by these videos and I think I’ve come to understand why.
This shift in perception is not as severe as those gaining the ability to hear for the first time, as these videos are also incredible, but for me these EnChroma videos carry greater weight. Let me explain. These EnChroma glasses show you that you’ve been seeing the world wrong, well…your whole damn life. With the simple donning of these glasses you realize that the reality that you’ve built from your own perceptions is simply false and you were only seeing part of the picture. Talk about eye-opening.
What moves me, of course, is the transition from awe to tears. Now I know that many of these people are experiencing tears-of-joy, but I think that in some cases they are feeling the weight of having been robbed their whole life, of what everyone else simply takes for granted. In either case, I begin to think about this shift in metaphorical relationships.
The best way to become empathetic is to read books. In this instance the books are the EnChroma glasses, and the more diverse characters, circumstances and emotions we experience through reading…the more shades of color we can feel in ourselves and in others. Could you imagine what it would be like if you were a sociopath, had Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or Empathy Deficit Disorder and putting on a pair of glasses immediately gives you the insight of empathy, that the world you thought was inhabited by automatons is really filled with complex people, like yourself, that feel the full range of emotions that you do. If having these disorders caused you to treat people poorly throughout your life, then you suddenly realize what it must’ve been like for them. I would expect that this shift would go from a state of awe to those same tears seen in the videos.
What about where you sit on the politics spectrum? Now I’m not going to turn this post into a soapbox for my political views, though I’m sure I could, very easily. Instead, I would just like to think that if there were glasses that allowed you to see the world from the other end of the spectrum (liberal vs. conservative or democrat vs. republican) that we could make better sense of the issues…from a bipartisan, possibly objective, standpoint. All too often we box ourselves in and are unable to see the truth in something that simply doesn’t fit our political viewpoint. Would the awe still be followed by the tears? Of realizing how we had been robbed of a certain kind of sight, not since birth, but from when we developed our political affiliation?
What about religion? Could you imagine if putting on a pair of glasses gave you the immediate insight of what it meant to belong to a certain religion that was not your own? To have the long view, of how the world and this religion has evolved and has been treated over time. Would we gain an unprecedented level of tolerance for these other religions? What if we take it one step further and develop glasses that allow an atheist to see what the world looks like through the eyes of faith, or a pair that strips it all away and lets you see the universe as a product of physics and science? How would you change as a result? Would you change? Would you weep at the loss of faith, or the loss of empirical evidence being enough?
What if the only pair of glasses we would ever need, that could take us a long way down the road of acceptance of others, was simply a pair that allowed us to love ourselves…unconditionally. If we love ourselves then we can truly begin to love others, and in accepting our flaws we can love others with their flaws, as well. I can love myself with all my shortcomings and idiosyncrasies, and having gained the self-assurance this lends, I won’t have any self-hatred to project onto others. We can all become brothers and sisters in the human race, tearing down the “walls” that divide us and celebrate our differences as those things that make us unique and beautiful.
Unfortunately these glasses don’t exist. Until they do…I’m going to keep on reading books. I’m going to add as many shades of color to my understanding of the human condition and emotions as I can, work on being an empathetic person and try to make ground on loving myself for who I am. I hope you do the same. Good luck!