So often we find ourselves stuck, it happens when we try to learn something new and find it particularly. It happens when we try to communicate with another person and find that no matter how hard we try we can’t seem to get our point across. It happens in politics and in day to day experiences.
Here’s an example for writers. It’s fairly easy to write but one piece of the writing process is editing and proofreading. No matter how often we re-read our work, we still tend to overlook obvious mistakes. That’s because we’re actually reading what we meant to say. But if we stop and read our work backward, suddenly typos and other mistakes will often jump out at us.
In politics and other conversations which frequently become quite heated when we’re talking with others who have different viewpoints, we find the same thing. It’s important to remember that each one of us has different perspectives. If I live in a large city, Chicago for example, I’m going to see things much differently than a companion who lives on a farm on the side of a mountain in rural New Mexico. Each one builds his or her conversation on very different life pictures.
Here’s a basic and very obvious example. Three homeowners are talking about their homes and the proper maintenance of the places where they live. One may live in a condominium in a 30-story concrete and glass building. But the second may live in a sprawling one-story flat-roof mud and stucco hacienda with no running water and yet the third may own a two-story frame house in a small town in Ohio which relies on well water and a sump pump. Each home has some source of water and a disposal system. But they will be talking apples and oranges if they try to come to an agreement about what is the best way to maintain our systems…unless they begin with a definition of terms and trying to visualize the differences inherent in each one’s experiences.
In cases like this it’s critical that we recognize that there are different perspectives than the immediate one we hold if we hope to have a meaningful discussion.
Similarly, we seniors see the world very clearly based on our years of experiences. Our perspective is based on childhoods that were very different than the childhoods of our grandchildren. They don’t have any memory or experience with living in a world without iPads and mechanical answering systems. So our solutions may not match the solutions that our grandchildren will arrive at. Heck, we know what it is to wait until the end of a school day to meet with converse with our friends. They just text each other whenever and wherever they are. The differences are obvious but too often we forget.
It’s so easy to think that what we see and know is right – it is for us, after all. But perspective, remember, is everything.
The larger the scope of the conversation, the more important looking at discussions from different perspectives becomes. This, I think is why politics and philosophical discussions are so difficult. As we get older we tend to allow our perspectives to become “cast in stone” forgetting that others come from different experiences and so have very different viewpoints.
Here’s where the internet can be a huge benefit for all. It gives us information and pictures of lifestyles and environments very different than our own and can be a huge asset in helping us to open our minds and expand our experiences. We just need to remember that there ultimately is no absolute right and wrong for all people in all places.