Michael - Ambler, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18


I believe in the dispersion of light through a prism. Without that tendency of light waves to bend and refract to become all the disparate colors of our spectrum, we could never fully understand the vibrant urgency of spring or the grey solemnity of winter. All would become a single, numbing hue of light—like white noise after a rock concert—and before long we would lose our sense of vision entirely.

What is extraordinary is that almost all of us share this belief. How impossible it would be to doubt the rainbow, acrylic paints, sunsets or the continuity of horizon, ocean, and sky. I used to play a game with my younger brother. We would each try to count passing cars of a certain color. Invariably, I would choose red and he blue, but while we fought over just about everything, we never seriously questioned the colors that passed us by. Oh, sure, once in a while a wild purple minivan would cause more than a few jibes, and there were a few heated exchanges over blue-greens and hot pinks. Throughout it all, our standards—the way we saw the cars, the way we judged their shades—remained the same. I daresay that a light-hearted game of colors with any one of you would end in much the same manner. There just aren’t any serious disputes over red.

But aren’t I forgetting something? Are there not members of the population that see things in a completely different way? Don’t we all suffer from tiny distortions between even “normal” see-ers? If I said more blue than green, you might say more green than blue, and we all have different thresholds for the moment red turns to pink, do we not?

Here is my reply: each perceives the world around him not through static, ubiquitous looking glasses but instead through nature’s uniquely formed retinal vessels. Our eyes. Our eyes take in light and they refract and decipher it into all too beautiful reality. I do not deny that our eyes are not perfect, that they do not fail us from time to time. But I vehemently reject, on principle, that each of us receives a different light to begin with. Light waves are measurable; they have wavelength and velocity and all the properties of constancy. In other words, only our interpretations, and not reality itself, are open to interpretation.

Look, we all see things differently. All of us take in the white light of reality and filter it through a prism that is as unique as any line of genetic code. It is a prism built by years of experience, education, and thought. It is why the inkblot tests they give for psychiatric examinations work: everyone sees reality and comes away with a different interpretation.

Just as the color-blind learn to cope and the myopic don their contact lenses and the aged push their bifocals back to the bridge of their nose, then, we must learn to overcome the biases and the distortions that plague our thinking. We should not dismiss our peers with derision any more than a blind man should dismiss an explanation of the visible spectrum. For we simply do not know who in blind in thought, and we will not know until we synthesize all of it, until we have gathered the spectrum of it in all its glory, so that we may send it back through the prism and observe the pure beauty and spirituality of truth.

This I believe: that sometimes, white light is most beautiful of all.