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Not what they seem . . .

A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. Proverbs 26:28

There’s a brew pub in Sebastian, Florida, named Pareidolia. The walls of the pub are plastered with pictures of objects that resemble faces. A pareidolia is defined as the perception of apparently significant patterns or recognizable images, especially faces, in random or accidental arrangements of shapes and lines. A silo looks like a man with a hat. A piece of equipment looks like a round-eyed person in an expression of surprise. The windows on a building compose eyes, a nose and a mouth.

It’s fun to look for faces in inanimate objects. Haven’t we all looked at clouds and seen someone’s resemblance? Abraham Lincoln with his beard and bushy eyebrows, perhaps? In the photo below, do you see an old man with droopy features? I do. We allow our imagination to run, seeing things our mind wants to see.

The tendency to see what we want to see can be damaging, however. The ability to perceive someone for who they are, instead of who they pretend to be, is essential if we are to avoid being continually fooled. When people flatter us or tell stories meant to impress, our antennae twitch, telling us something is off. We feel uncomfortable, trying to decide if we are misreading them or if they are trying to manipulate us. Being fooled—in essence lied to—is not fun. It leads to mistrust and suspicion, the hurt and ruin the proverb warns of.

I like WYSIWYG’s. They have no pretensions. There’s no middle ground with a WYSIWYG. You either like them or find them boorish. Even if I don’t agree with them, I can respect them for being forthright as long as they aren’t intentionally offensive. Being forthright is not a platform for being a jerk.

We sometimes skirt the truth to avoid conflict. It’s not lying, but it’s not entirely honest. I want to be polite while thinking, “You’re full of malarkey.” My id and super-ego do battle, one urging me to tell it like it is, the other pulling me back from the precipice of an argument. I usually lay my sandpaper aside, remembering the admonition from Romans 12:18 - If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Pareidolias are everywhere. They are fun and amusing, but when I look into the real life face of someone, I want to see who they are, not who they want me to think they are.

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