Remember #TheDress!

The Dress

I don’t know about you, but I could not have been more thrilled by the internet sensation that was #TheDress. The furor has died down now, but the object lesson remains, and hopefully can be used as a touchstone for discussions of faith and other matters of belief for a long time to come. Namely: people genuinely see things differently. And you can’t make people see what they don’t see.

What fascinated me was how the conversation changed from “What color is it?” to “What color do you see?” I loved how #TheDress, through its very innocuousness, introduced so many of us to the practice of speaking to one another about our perceptions, and recognizing that those may not be the same as the facts.

#TheDress gave me a new way to talk about differences in belief, something that might be useful when things get heated in our faith communities: when people stand on opposing sides, claiming something IS one way or the other, my battle cry is going to be “Remember #TheDress!” It gives us a way for people to say, “I see things this way” rather than “It IS this way.” Saying “I see things this way” still leaves room for there to be an objective truth, not just a wishy-washy relativism. But it also allows us to respect the fact that others may have good reason for seeing things the way they do. And to understand there may be more to the subject than meets the eye.

As a person who sees white and gold, it is still really hard for me to believe my eyes could deceive me so much. Talk about seeing in a mirror, dimly! #TheDress gave me a new appreciation and respect for those who believe things differently than I do, because the truth is, no matter how much I tried, I never could see that dress as blue and black – even though I wanted to. The only way to do so would be to see it in a different light. And that only happens when I allow myself to continue to look, and to listen.