Reality Perception

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 student's 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 experience's I
realized that being influenced by your surroundings is virtually unavoidable. To
answer the question posed in the introduction, reality is what one determines it
is by exploring and coming to a conclusion on their own. By staying as open
minded as possible, one can determine reality on the basis of their own
experiences, and not the ones of others.