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Richard's Writings > The Weltanschauung Lens

The Weltanschauung Lens

Who made them? I don't know. I just found them, and I dare not tell you where. I found twelve of them, but I would bet my soul they made many more.

They are fashioned after magnifying glasses, but they are not magnifying glasses. And yet, maybe they are, in a sense. They don't make objects larger, in the way you would expect, but each lens does bring into closer view certain - qualities - for lack of a better word, qualities that may be better off left unexamined. But that is just my opinion. Read on, and you may agree.

I've used them. I looked through each lens, all twelve of them, and I find myself haunted by what I saw. I wish I had not looked; I wish I had not ever found them at all, but there it is. Once Pandora opened her famous box she could not undo what she had done. No power on Earth can return to you your innocence once it has been ripped asunder. They say confession can bleach a soul back to its original white state, and I would like to believe this could be true, but I sadly suspect this is just another fable by the original and catholic church to keep the faithful in their ranks.

I will tell you what I saw. Hearing about these lenses should not do you any harm. I found them in an old trunk that was brought here from overseas. I do not know who made them, or why. Or how. I found the trunk, this is all you need to know. I found each lens wrapped in crimson velvet inside the trunk. I unwrapped the lens and held it up by its handle - it was fashioned just like a magnifying glass, as I told you. And when I looked through it…

Each lens was perfectly clear, like crystal, devoid of any sort of color. I don't know what material they were made from. But the view through each one was quite different and distinct from any of the others. I happened to be home and company had come for a holiday dinner. I looked at my grandfather with the first lens and beheld a man more kindly and gentle than I knew my grandfather to be. I was infused with love for this elderly gentleman, and I remembered the thoughtfulness he poured into choosing the most perfect Christmas gift for me, proud and happy in the thought that I would cherish it and remember him fondly forevermore.

Then I returned that lens to its velvet cocoon and unwrapped the next. Again I held it up and looked through the glass at my dear old granddaddy. I almost dropped the lens with shock and surprise. It was the same man, and yet, and yet… Who was this monster? His eyes leered at me, his smile had more than a touch of evil to it, his hands curled with grasping furtiveness. He was the personification of greed, a rapacious tycoon of industry, a fat and loathsome capitalist who cared nothing for the Earth he ripped up and plundered, nor for the want and suffering of any man, woman or child who eked a meager living upon her surface. I beheld a white devil, a spider in his web, a cold and calculating financier of empire. I tried to look away but I could not, until at last my shame and hate for him forced me to lower the lens and cover it in crimson.

My heart beat many times faster than its normal rate, my mouth was dry, my breathing shallow. My God! - what had I just seen?!? I sat there with my head down and fought to recover my composure. I dare not look at him again with a different lens, I could not. Who made these things? And why? For surely, they must have been made, by someone, for some purpose I could not hope to divine - they could not have just fallen out of the sky!

At last, with time, I was moved to draw out a different lens, and pondered how I might choose a different subject. I went to the window and looked out on my quiet little neighborhood. The homes on the other side of the lane were shadows framing squares of merry golden light, with the empty expanse of a grassy field adjacent and beyond dedicated to sporting events and rummage sales. This view should be safe enough. I raised the glass before my eyes.

The view did not change, the houses were still there, and the field was still bordered by a row of distant trees dark against the horizon. But I didn't like what I was seeing. It felt - crowded. The houses were too close together, the windows more pale than gold, and they felt like they were staring back at me, mocking and hostile. And the field, so dark and so long, was no longer empty. It wriggled with crippled movement, hesitant and jerky commotion, and from somewhere I knew what it was I was seeing. The field was full of bodies, packed tight with bodies, and I hated them, I hated that they still lived, when the world demanded their extermination.

They were not like us, they threatened us, they hated us, they were not Serb. And then with horror I knew who they were. They were Muslim, they were other, they were the descendants of the conquerors, many generations of them, and we had gathered them for the pogroms. Their doom made me happy. Their homes were to be ploughed into the earth and the earth burned and purified. I clawed the lens away from my eyes with my free hand and forced it back into its crimson velvet cover. I had to save myself before it was too late.

By all the gods, what were these lenses?!? I began to suspect the answer. But to confirm my suspicions I needed to use a different lens and look at the same view once again. This I did. My eyes were immediately drawn to the field, and the vacuum it represented. I longed to look over a wide and empty expanse. I felt the homes on the other side were a mistake, they were too solid, too permanent. I began to wish they were soft yurts of felt, temporary and fleeting like the wind. The feeling grew within me slowly, the longing for a world I had never truly known, but wished I had. I think I understood.

How they came to be fashioned, I do not know. But somehow, for some reason, each lens had been endowed with a different worldview, or weltanschauung. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps this is true. But now I know that it is much more than beauty we see when we look through the curious filters of our unique perspectives. It may be strongly driven by our culture, and perhaps flavored by our individual experiences. But though we live upon the same planet and share the same world, we do not all share the same worldview.

There are many such worldviews, maybe an infinite number of them, and at least a dozen of them have been permanently encapsulated in these unholy lenses. This I know, for I have looked through them all. And I very much suspect there are many more. If you stumble across them, beware. And remember, not everyone sees the world as you do, not even close.