Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We See What We Believe

Our class discussions have frequently touched on Loyola, and in particular Loyola in relation to the city of Baltimore. For example, we mentioned the phenomenon of the college website’s directions. I am sure that most of us realized, after our freshman move-in or even our first visit to the school, that the school really does send you in the most roundabout way, though it certainly is the scenic route. There is always talk around campus about the “Loyola Bubble.” It is all too easy to get sucked into—if you take a look at the beauty of the campus, or the elegant homes on St. Paul Street. We might like to believe in the safety that the bubble provides. We can’t be harmed here, it’s so pretty, nothing bad could happen. We tend to only focus on the good things, because they are what we want to believe to be true.
If all we only see through the very small lens of the Loyola Bubble, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We may have a perfectly nice, lovely, safe college experience, but why not look for more? In order to truly learn, to really gain knowledge and experience, we need to push our boundaries. I think Loyola as a community does an outstanding job of encouraging this kind of behavior. We have ample opportunity to get out into Baltimore, because it is a city full of both the good and the bad. Even if the admissions office does not want to highlight this fact (understandably so), students are well aware that the city they have come to live in has its problems, and they are glaring in some neighborhoods. Service learning for certain courses is one of the many ways to plunge headfirst into the city and what it has to offer. We can help others while at the same time learning from them. Once we see outside of the Loyola Bubble, we come to a full appreciation for what we have, and also what we can give to others.
The concept of only seeing what we believe is an important theme in Black Rainbow. When the narrator is contemplating the infuriating “normalness” that is the Puzzle Palace, he says to his companions, “We see what we believe” (138). He does not, at this point, figure out how to defeat the Palace, but when he finally does it is because of the same thought. Because he believes the Palace is a complex, top-secret, government fortress, that is what it becomes. This seems a long way from breaking free of the Loyola Bubble, but it is not. After overcoming the obstacle of the Palace, the narrator is greatly changed. He begins to deny his Quest. He denies his wife as well as the money and freedom she offers. For the first time he openly sees fault with the life the Tribunal has created for him, and he wants out. The narrator’s entire view is shattered. Before, he saw the Game of Life as something he had to do. He thought he would find his family and live happily ever after, so to speak. Once he begins to see that there is something inherently wrong with the Tribunal, and with his journey, he is able to see more clearly. Before, when he believed in and trusted the Tribunal, his views were very different. He could only see what the Tribunal wanted him to see.
We see what we believe. Sometimes, we might have to take a step back from our beliefs, to make sure we are seeing everything.

No comments: