I wear glasses. I have since around 4th grade. Recently I had an eye exam. It is always weird to try to read the letters as they fidget with the machine to make what you see clearer. Even though I wear glasses with a very strong prescription, I am thankful for my sight. As a diabetic, I need to really pay attention to my eyes, as vision problems are not uncommon. Being able to physically see is the most direct definition of vision, but it is not the only one. There are several additional definitions of vision that are less clear-cut than physical sight.
Visions can also refer to supernatural appearances that convey a revelation. These can appear in our dreams or in our waking life. Sadly I don’t think I have had any of these that I am aware of, but I definitely believe in them. I hope to have some in my future. There are visions that transcend the daily waking life of regular consciousness. I think part of understanding these is being ready to receive them. One could also hire a psychic to help get in touch with these types of visions. I believe this is the universe’s way of helping to clue us in when everyday life won’t give up the info we need and seek.
Vision can also mean a mode of conceiving and the power of imagination. This is the vision that means the most to me personally. This definition of vision refers to seeing not in the physical sense but in the sense of imagining that which we seek. My vision of the world is one based in social justice. My vision of the world sees economic justice where the great chasm between the rich and the poor is eliminated. My vison is of a radically different way to organize gender where Trans and Gender Nonconforming people are not horribly oppressed.
Vision is vitally important for activism. Understandably, for much of our activism we concentrate on what we need to stop in the here and now. Since we are hemorrhaging, we hurry to find a way to stop the bleeding out. But in addition to this sort of immediate cultural first aid, I believe we need to create and construct a vision of the kind of world we want to live in. We must envision, we must dream and we must imagine. This is not utopic fantasizing; it is the very real work of setting our goals. And once we set our visions, we need to write the instruction booklet for how to get there. That is perhaps the hardest part of activist work.
The final definition of vision is a lovely or charming sight. As when people say: she is a vision. He is a vision. They are a vision. They may also add a color as in: s/he is a vision in red or they are a vision in white. I like this definition and these statements because they remind us that vision is beautiful. The sound of a person’s voice or the energy they manifest could be just as beautiful. Blind people have just as much vision as their sighted counterparts when we deemphasize sightedness in the physical sense and emphasize revelations and imagination instead. We need to all think about what vision means to us in our personal and political lives. So I end with a question: how’s your vision?