I have always been told that it's good to look at things from another person's perspective. I have often been encouraged to consider other points of view. And I think that's really good counsel. I'm sure that it is wise to live that way.
Lately, though, I've come to the conclusion that it's really hard to do that. In fact, I'm wondering right now if it's possible at all.
Maybe it's just part of the human condition, but most of the time we are utterly captive to our own perception.
I know what I am feeling. I know what I am seeing. I know what I am experiencing. But I don't have foggiest idea what all of that looks like to you. And even if I do my best to shift the focus, I'm not sure that I can really do that. It sounds good to sympathetically say, "I know what you're feeling," or "I know exactly what that's like." But those words can't possibly be true.
In fact, we DON'T know how it feels and we DON'T know what it's like.
I don't think the answer to our dilemma is to stop trying. Instead, I think the answer is to start talking. More to the point, to start listening. To be less worried about defending our view of things and more eager to learn. Maybe even to be willing to lay down some of our certainties, or at least to hold them more gently.
Obviously, we presume that everything we believe is certain and sure. After all, that's why we believe what we believe. But if we're willing to enter into community, willing to walk in friendship, willing to open some doors, we will make possible some softening, some smoothing of rough edges, some change of heart. And even if we then insist on saying, "Yeah, I was right all along," perhaps we'll say it a little less dogmatically.
It's just the way we live: whatever I know is true, whatever I do is right, whatever I feel is justified, however I act or however I react is okay. And there is no possibility that I could be wrong.
Hopefully we ARE right about a few things.
For my part, though, I'm really interested in what you think and what you feel and what you do. I am absolutely fascinated by your experience, by the way things look to you, by the forces that have shaped your life, by your particular point of view.
I want to hear your story. I need to hear your story.
Having heard your story, I might not change my views, but I will certainly be changed. Even more, it is actually possible that I might acknowledge that there is another point of view.
And I think that would be a really good thing.