I love movies, read blogs, tune in to my favorite shows, and skim through Facebook on a fairly regular basis. And I’ve noticed for me this can easily be more about viewing than seeing.
Here’s what I mean:
Viewing is passive, seeing is active. Viewing doesn’t require anything of me. Seeing requires me to be engaged, to bring myself more fully to the equation. Propping my feet up and munching on a bowl of popcorn makes sense watching my favorite show but not watching my daughter’s dance recital.
Viewing is more about me, seeing is more about others. When I’m viewing, I’m looking to be entertained, inspired, even moved. When I’m seeing, I’m focused on the other person and his or her well-being.
Viewing feeds fiction even in reality, seeing nourishes reality even through fiction. When the focus is on me, it’s easier to edit or block out anything that I don’t like or that causes me discomfort. But when I’m seeing, there’s truth to be discovered even in fairy tales.
Maybe I can sum all this up this way:
Viewing looks at people either as objects (to make you happy) or obstacles (in the way of your happiness).
Seeing looks at people as people, worthy of love, worthy to be seen (no matter what they can or can’t do for me).
Or another way to sum it up is the way John Paul II talked about pornography: He said that the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little.
What happens to a person immersed in a life of viewing? What happens to a culture? I’m not suggesting we stop watching movies or quit using Facebook. I am saying that if we want to be people who can see, we have to be intentional about seeing—through our screens or without them.
(Do stop watching porn, though—the men and women there are being torn apart emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and they desperately need for us to see them. Regeneration can help.)
How do we get intentional about seeing?
First, we can be honest about the current condition our eyes are in. How are you doing with seeing others, whether people on your screens or people around you day to day?
Second, we can open our eyes to Christ and ask Him to help us see. No matter your current condition, Jesus can heal our eyes to see better.
And third, we can practice. Every one of us every day is training our eyes either to view objects and obstacles or to see people.
Question: How can you practice seeing today? Share your ideas below.