Some say the glass is half empty while others claim it’s half full. Is one right and the other wrong or is it just a matter of how one looks at the glass? Perspective is a measured assessment of a thing or situation. When you look at things from a distance they look very different than they do when you are up close and personal.
Have we considered another way of looking at things from a perspective that is contrary to our own?
By the same token, when you look at something with an attempt to understand or at least acknowledge the perspective of the alternate point of view, it often deepens your own understanding of the problem, whether or not it actually changes your opinion or conclusion. In these days of intense division across social and political divides in the nation and even in this city, we may be better served to take a pause from the entrenched oppositional positions and just question our lens. How are we looking at the situation? Have we considered another way of looking at things from a perspective that is contrary to our own? Have we only listened to our own voice or those who agree with us on the topic? Or have we intentionally endeavored to engage those with whom we disagree? In fact, create a space to have an actual conversation about what they think, feel or know about the situation?
Dichotomous opposition is an either-or proposition, not unlike a tug-of-war where one might win by dragging those who are on the opposite side of the rope through the dirt. But in our effort to win the game, we have not won over any friends or influenced anyone to change their mind or to sympathize with our perspective. The tug-of-war strategy rarely works in creating a shared vision or building community. In fact, by merely “digging in” and holding fast to our immoveable positions and one-sided perspectives (merely playing tug-of-war), we may have actually created more enemies in the struggle to win. In the effort to “have it our way”, what we may have accomplished instead are the extremes of resistance and defiance but absolutely not a willingness to “buy-in” or cooperation from those we hoped to lead and engage in the work at hand. The opportunity we have before us is to continue to do what we have always done and disengage from any personal responsibility or ownership for our failure, because that failure will ultimately come. If we are doing what we’ve always done, we will surely get what we’ve always gotten. And, if you are satisfied with THAT then just go on “hoping” for the best. But time does not stand still, the clock continues to tick away the minutes, days, months and years…and if we don’t DO something about the dysfunctional tug-of-war we are playing in our community, we will surely miss an opportunity to change the way things are and replace them with a vision for how they could be. If you question your lens, you may be able to see a way through the mess.