“We recently visited Urla County in İzmir to do some wine tasting. A fine lady told us about the qualities of each wine and let us taste them. They were all delicious, but I’m not going to lie. I just drank them as I would any other wine. Then the time came for the most expensive, artsy wine they had. The woman recited a range of qualities and told us it had even been tested by English experts who gave it a pretty high rank, so I curiously went to try it. To be honest, to me it was no different than any of the wines I buy for a few bucks from my local grocery store on the corner. In fact, I couldn’t really distinguish it from any of the wines I’d tasted earlier that day…
My dear friend Reşat Güner once told me about the functioning of the brain. The brain needs to have prior information about an apple to be able to recognize it. When the eyes see an apple, the neurons in charge are stimulated, so the person is able to recognize that there’s an apple there. However, if the brain doesn’t have any information about apples, it doesn’t even register the fruit. This is just like how the Native Americans did not see the incoming European ships, because their brains didn’t have any prior knowledge of such monstrous ships. The most bizarre thing is how the brain fills in the blanks when it doesn’t know an object. The brain quickly airbrushes over the blank spaces like you would in Photoshop. It does this so well that you may see only the ocean and not the enormous ship floating in it. We say that seeing is believing, yet the brain recreates the world over again according to the information it receives from the sensory organs. In a sense, no two people ever see the world the same way. (What’s more, there may be many things we cannot see and thus perceive. Perhaps we label those who can actually see more of the world as charlatans and shun them. Who knows?)
When I combined these two pieces of information, something dawned on me: Many people on this planet do not perceive the world as we do. They don’t use their receptors in the same way. Those parts of their brains are immature and latent now. For instance, my wine receptors are so immature that I can’t even differentiate between a ten-dollar wine and a really expensive one. To me, all wines are just wine. Someone else, however, with more sensitive taste buds would surely notice even the slightest of differences. I’m completely useless in this sense, but how can I improve my perception? If I frequently visit a winery or wine house, and if a nice lady like this one tells me about the different varieties of wine while letting me taste them, I would in time start to notice the differences, perceive the beauty of the wine, and at long last, I would start to demand better wines.
On the other hand, if someone told me, “You dumbass! You know nothing, do you, you ignoramus!” or if I feel that people are snickering at me, I’d certainly feel insulted. Screw your wine and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. Hell, I’d never set foot in such places again, and why should I? What good is there in people who claim to know wine better than me? They don’t even make my day better; it’s the other way around. They insult me and criticize my lack of knowledge just to puff up their egos. I wouldn’t even want to share a building with these people…
From now on, I’ll remember my winery experience before even attempting to label people as ignorant, retarded, uninformed, and so on. They just don’t perceive the world the same as I do and don’t taste their wine like I do. Maybe they don’t even know about wine at all. Is this a fault on their part? No, never! If I had grown up like them, shared their experiences, their lives, and their families, I would act and think much like they do now. I can almost hear your egos screaming, “No, I would never act like that!” but of course you would! The ego just strives to maintain its existence by despising other people to satisfy itself, end of story! I would do just the same. Besides, I could try to inform them about wine, or on a wider sense, I could tell them about justice, law, freedom, peace, equality, or anything else I wanted. Would they hear me, though? Do their brains have any prior information about these things? Maybe they have some fragments of these ideas, as tiny as my knowledge of wine, if anything. See, I tasted both the good and the bad wines that day, but to me, they were all still just simple wines. If I was deprived of wine for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t miss it.
At one point, forcing, raging, despising, assaulting and other such acts of tyranny would surely backfire and make people even more reliant on their current perceptions. Now you claim to know and see better, now you’re able to show them a better world, you should simply realize and apply your knowledge. This way, those who can see your beauty and light will willingly come to you to ask how you do it. You can then teach them your wisdom, show them the source of your beauty, kick-start their neurons, and fill them with your knowledge. Only then will their minds change. You know how the saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
May our embracing receptors live long and prosper…
Hasan Sonsuz Çeliktaş
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