What is real? Our perception of reality is often in the hands of the community we live in. We formulate ideas of reality using experience of our own as well as those of others around us. Our lives are constantly being influenced by our surroundings. The idea that our perception of reality is determined by the consensus of our community can be seen throughout history, movies and literature, as well as our personal lives. During the Holocaust, in the movie Stigmata, and in my personal experience in boarding school, my perception as well as the cognition of others were shaped by the community associated with the situation.
Throughout history many events have occurred involving false perceptions of reality. The holocaust is a great example of the community molding the perception of the individuals within the society. Adolph Hitler, for example, used the media to degrade darker skinned races. The media convinced people that the darker skinned race hurts their community and economy, and genocide was a necessary action. The people of that time based their perception of reality on what they heard from the media, and from leaders of their country.
A movie that I have recently seen changed my perception of reality in a religious aspect. The movie is titled Stigmata, and the message that the movie portrays involves criticizing the Catholic Church. This film implies that the Church is not necessary to worship God because God is everywhere and in all aspects of life. According to the movie the Church is aware of this, however, and they refuse to tell the people because they will loose power if the members of the Catholic community become aware that they have false perceptions.
Within the movie, in a religious aspect, the perception of reality of the Catholic society is completely shaped by the Catholic Church. Believers of Catholicism will modify their own perception of religion depending on the messages that the Church portrays to them. The church has great power over the beliefs of its religious followers. On more of a personal level, after watching this movie, my views regarding the purpose of the Church were slightly altered. I questioned and thoroughly thought of the Church and the reason for attending Mass on Sundays. I finally concluded that it is just a place where one can focus on religious thoughts without distractions from the outside world.
Another situation where my community molded my perception of reality took place during my second year of high school. For my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school I attended an international boarding school in Switzerland. Although it was an American school, the student body was composed of many different nationalities. These nationalities included students form Turkey, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Spain, Venezuela, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and many other countries. Prior to my sophomore year I had never before been so interactive with such a large diversity of people.
The students in that school shaped my perception of how people of different countries were. For example, I assumed that the whole Turkish community acted like the Turkish people that attended our school. I somewhat stereotyped them on the basis of my experiences with them. The majority of the student body was very wealthy, being a very expensive school, and my initial feelings toward the Turkish students were that they acted conceded and arrogant. I then assumed all Turkish people acted similarly to the ones of our school. However, after visiting Turkey and having a Turkish roommate, I realized that my perception of reality was contrary to the truth. The students of other nationalities that I lived with similarly shaped my perception of reality. Stereotyping was a common practice at our school. Many of the students from countries other than the United States thought of all Americans as drugies. This perception was based on the actions of most of the American students. False perceptions such as these were customary throughout my high school life.
The idea that the perception of individuals is shaped by the community they are associated with is accurate in most cases. Throughout my experiences I realized that being influenced by your surroundings is virtually unavoidable. To answer the question posed in