“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
— Henry David Thoreau
Looking at public reaction to the news of the last few weeks has been fascinating. Never has it been more obvious that there is more than one reality. Was the United States Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage a strike for equality and an affirmation that gay people matter or was it a redefinition of marriage that will make Jehovah and Jesus very cross and cause the foundation of society as we know it to end? Having lived in Canada for the last 10 years I would tend towards the former view but I have my reality tunnels too. This is but one example.
Is the discrediting and removal of the confederate flag a blow against a symbol of slavery and degradation or was it a removal of a symbol that stood against oppression? Were people who celebrated gay marriage buying into a government institution that was meaningless or was it celebrating a hard-fought battle? Who’s reality wins and how do we reconcile it? What do we see and what lens are we looking at it with?
Is it possible for the sake of understanding to allow ourselves to see what another sees even if it contradicts our own viewpoint? I believe so and I have proved it to myself in a number of ways. It sometimes means that one has to give up investment in one’s own outlook to do it. This doesn’t necessarily mean changing our point of view as much as loosening it a bit to see how another reality can fit. This makes it a bit easier to not dismiss those who hold opposing viewpoints. It is possible to both understand and disagree with someone. It just takes work. Could that be merely what I see?
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