Try On Someone Else’s Perspective
In the USA we are reaching what I call peak polarization. Our society is divided along every possible point of tension. I hear and see people attacking each other because they are either physically or mentally different; red and blue, black and white, rich and poor, this and that – it is as if we look for excuses to lash out at each other rather than searching for common ground.
We over emphasize the idea of individualism and as a result people have fallen under the false impression that we don’t need each other, or that it is “me against you.” We fight over our perceptions and stubbornly exclaim “I’m right and you’re wrong” without even attempting to understand each other.
When people are unable to express themselves and be heard, when we are unable to understand and be understood, animosity builds up inside. All this built up negative energy will eventually be expressed. In the United States it is being expressed through numerous mass shootings and violent clashes between members of society. These outbursts of violence have been increasing as the tensions between segments of society grow stronger.
When we hold vehemently that our perspective is the absolute truth, we put up walls against others who have different viewpoints. If we continue to stubbornly reject alternative ideas without listening, we will continue to face the problems that our divided society has. United we stand, divided we fall.
There is a simple remedy to this situation: actively look to understand the perspectives of others. I am not asking you to give up your perception, it seems for some people that is essentially sacrilegious. What I am asking of you, is to try on someone else’s perspective.
Imagine a gigantic shoe store with every possible different style of footwear, only each different variation represented a unique perspective. You notice that different groups of people generally tend to like different style types, but everyone in the store has a commonality: they are looking for something to protect their feet. You decide to walk around and try on different types of shoes, this gives you an understanding of why people like the various styles and perhaps you find one you like better. In the end you pick the same style of shoe you have always worn (after all its comfortable), but at least now you understand what its like to walk in other peoples shoes.
We are capable of trying on each others perspectives without giving up our own. Certainly we will learn and grow from the exercise, and it will help build compassion for our fellow human beings. Perhaps it will inspire you to look more closely at the fundamental similarities among us all instead of the differences.
The next time you encounter a perspective that is contrary to your own, take a full breath before you react. Think about their position and work to understand where they are coming from. Test yourself and move outside of your comfort zone.
We are all in this together, let’s make the conscious switch from you or me, to you and me. Let’s tear down the invisible walls and reconnect in compassion.
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