You’re given a pair of binoculars.The instument has heft, the parts are machined with precision, the black pebbled casing holds a grip, and the lenses shine.
You notice that the people who gave you the binoculars have their own. You hear people talking about the dazzling sights the binoculars bring into view.
You try out the instrument, anxious to see for yourself. Like most people around you, you pan up at the sky and . . . everything’s blurry. You can’t see a thing.
You’re asked what you see. Embarrassed, you make vague, general statements about how amazing the binoculars are. What a gift! You are, after all, impressed with the workmanship.
Oh, your interlocutor responds, obviously unconvinced by your him-hawing. Sometimes, they explain, it’s hard to see stuff at first. The trick is that you not only have to look through the binoculars but, at the same time, you have to really super believe that you’re seeing dazzling sights out the other end. Then the binoculars will work.
You’re game. You fit the binoculars to your face and try substituting a strongly-willed belief in the stuff you don’t see for the stuff you don’t see. You’re not screwing around: you really try and you do it for a long time. You’re not ashamed to publicly admit your belief in these dazzling sights. You even put some effort into getting other people to believe.
But the sun is hot, the days are long, and you still don’t see any of those dazzling sights.
Your will flags. Other people start to get suspicious of you. You start to get suspicious of you. The whole thing is about believing – really, truly, fervently believing – and you, my friend, don’t appear to believe. Otherwise you’d see stuff, right? Or, at least, find enough comfort in the strength of your belief in those dazzling sights that you won’t mind not seeing them?
You have to be honest. It hasn’t worked. You’re ready to give up. You sit down on a rock, the binoculars dangling from your knees, your knees hugged to your chest.
You turn the instrument over and over, admiring its heft, its precision machined parts, its black pebbled casing, its shining lenses.
And then – whammo! – lightning strikes.
You turn the binoculars around and look through them “backwards.” And you cry. The world at your feet comes into focus and it is filled with dazzling sights.
You believe now even less than you did a moment ago.
The binoculars didn’t need you to believe in them. They needed you to look through the right end.