Perceptions change the world

WINNER: Ricky Mathebula. 24/06/2010. © Sowetan.
WINNER: Ricky Mathebula. 24/06/2010. © Sowetan.

THERE was once a little boy who was determined to be the best batsman in his town.

THERE was once a little boy who was determined to be the best batsman in his town.

So one day after school he went to the school field holding a bat and a baseball. He looked around and then he said: "I am the best batsman in town!"

He threw the ball in the air and swerved to hit it, but he missed.

He tried again, and again, but he failed no end. The boy decided he was going to try for the last time and gripped the baseball bat even tighter and with heaps of anticipation, he said, again: "I am the best batsman in town!"

He threw the ball in the air and swerved to hit the ball. But he fell hopelessly to the ground and missed the ball. But he got up and he was chuffed with himself and said, once more: "Well, well, well, who would have thought that I would be the best bowler in town?"

Riley Freeman is now the best baseball player for the Yankees in the United States.

He had a different perception about his failure. So, welcome to the University of Life, where perceptions paint a portrait of one's fate!

But can one change your fate by having unique perceptions? A perception is an intuitive recognition of the truth. In other words, it is the way an individual views life.

In 2006 an investigation was held in the United Kingdom at Oxford University.

The investigation had sought to prove that people tend to formulate a common idea according to what they see, thus making the truth psychological.

As part of the research a meal comprising bacon and egg in a blue dye - which alters the colour of food, but not the taste - was distributed to a group of blind people and they reported that the food tasted perfectly normal.

The food was also distributed to sighted people and they miraculously deduced that the food tasted different. This proves that people tend to form a common perception without leaving any room for authentication, let alone innovation.

Can you imagine if we were still living in the stone age with fire wood as our only source of light?

It would be suicidal, but back in that era, it was a common perception that wood was the only source of heating for warmth and cooking and also for illumination.

If it were not for a young lad who was tired of having insufficient time during the day, we would not have the light bulb, which gives effective light in the night.

Thomas Edison's point of view was not limited. He changed our fate of living in darkness with fire wood and lanterns only. Scientists do not believe that what we see is all we can get. Society perceives scientists as dreamers, people with weird perceptions.

But if it were not for these unique people and their equally unique views of life, would we have advanced this far?

Albert Einstein once said: "The development of science requires another kind of freedom characterised by inward freedom. Free from restrictions and social prejudices."

This quote means that people who discover great things are not influenced in any way by society. It is good to know that one man's discovery can influence another person's fate.

In the 1940s the so-called blue-baby syndrome almost paralysed America. Were it not for an African American who rose above poverty and racism to pioneer the anastomosis of the subclavian artery, babies would still be dying.

Vivien Theodore Thomas had to voice his perceptions about alternative surgery procedures that went on to save lives.

Today our world is filled with challenges that seem like impossibilities, including the HIV-Aids pandemic. But each and every one of us has a unique perception, which could be brought to bear, to give someone else the tenacity and fortitude in the midst of their failure and discouragement.

I would like to leave you with a unique perception to ponder on: Never consider yourself a loser. Consider the fact that you were once a sperm cell waiting behind the marked line and racing though the Fallopian tube... The odds were millions against one, but you came first.

So, surely you can fight for a portrait of perceptions that can change another person's fate, just like Thomas Edison, Vivien Thomas Theodore and many others, whose perceptions transcended barriers ... including mediocrity!

lThe author is a matric pupil at Springs Boys High School in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. He is one of the province's three top winners in the 2010 Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards. He came second.