Yet isn't it interesting how the use we make of that body part is constantly growing as we grow, adapting as we age. As children we may witness our parents' daily sacrifices on our behalf, but it is often not until much later in our lives that we learn to see what it was that we had been really looking at, right before our eyes, during those early glimpses we undertook as infants.
It's tempting to view history as a narrative cut from the same mold as that of our own life. We find it easy to believe that when we were kids life was much better than it has become now that we are adults; similarly, we readily accept that "The Good Old Days" of our nation's infancy, or of our civilization's early life in the cradle, are giving way to a new, unprecedented time of despair as the nation and culture around us decays and grows frail with age.
Or so we may come to believe, if we don't strive to perceive as much as possible, of the present as well as the past.
On the whole, are people really generally worse, or better, than they ever were? When we envision a "Golden Age" in some fog-encrusted past, are we painting a picture with the same nostalgic airbrush we might take to our own childhoods, or are we truly seeing all that there is to be seen?
The revelations offered today through our evolution in communications technology certainly tempt us to conclude that ours is a world filled with unprecedented evil, unparralelled tragedy, and insurmountable temptations to forsake Doing The Right Thing. We see these problems because so many of them are, for once, readily at hand, the world's sadism and cruelty dumped onto our doorstep through the channeling of a million gutters: television, radio, newspapers, the internet, cel phones and combinations of these media shrink our world so that, for the first time in history, we see so much more of our civilization's daily story that the millions of mis-deeds pile up like garbage at an Earth Day rally.
Does there remain a good soul lurking in all this rubbish?
It's understandable that we would see all this, and despair. But if we are persistent, and honest, in studying all that we see, if we hold to a belief that somewhere there must exist some good within the bad, our faith-driven perseverance can reward us with one story plucked out of that million, such a jewel of human decency that it actually outshines its context, as a candle lights a path through the night.
Here's a story out of Georgia, one story out of a million that is enough to inspire me to continue to believe in a future worth living to see:
As it is with heroes, he is humble about his accomplishments:
A 6-year-old Georgia boy said he was simply being a good friend when he rescued his 5-year-old buddy from drowning in a pool.
Fayetteville, Ga., resident Haden Stusak said he was trying to find out what was making a dark spot at the bottom of the pool Sunday when he found his friend Josiah Buddah, 5, unconscious in the water....
"They took me to the hospital. I was dead and couldn't breathe," Buddah told reporters.
A doctor and two nurses performed CPR on Buddah after Stusak pulled him out of the water."
Were friends. That's what friends do," the young hero said.
Haden, who is home schooled, has spent the last several days doing news interviews. But he is weary of the spotlight. He prefers to play in the pool with his brother and sister, diving off the board and splashing around.His mother, on the other hand, is proud of her son."
He's a protector," Stusak said. "I think that comes from having a little sister. He won't hesitate to stand up for what's right."
Every once in a while it's good for we "grown-ups" to see the world temporarily once again through the eyes of a child, for children seem much more capable of seeing the good that the world has to offer. They have yet to lose their childlike faith that good exists, somewhere in the infinite darkness, an abundance of ones in a multitude of millions.
If we grow up and out of that faith, are we really better off, are we really seeing all that there is to see? It's fitting that as the young depend on the old, the old grow to depend on the young, to renew their faith in a positive future; were it not for the sake of our young, what reasons would we find to continue to try and live a good life ourselves?
Perception is an ongoing process, requiring a perennial re-viewing of things, and not a one-time-only snapshot. If at first there seems to be nothing positive to see, shame on us for not having enough faith, and doubt, to summon the nerve to look a second time, in order to observe what must be there... that one in a million departure from the norm.
Thank you, Haden, for being one in a million, for swimming against the current and believing that choosing to do good is the right thing to do. Just as you will learn a lot from your elders, we have much to learn from you... if we only maintain the humility to see it.