Perspective is important. We interpret the world in what we see and hear, but our specific perspective of what we see and hear defines the world around us and helps to define us as people. As we grow and age, we unfortunately develop a certain pre-programmed mindsets regarding the things we see and experience. And if any of you have come to learn anything about me while reading this blog, y’all know that I’m going to give you an example.
You step out of your local favourite burger spot after a fantastic meal with some friends (mine is a place called FatBurger, I highly recommend it). As you step out, you see a guy sitting on a bench against the building. As you look at him, you notice a number of things about him.
His cloths appear disheveled and filthy. There are traces of mud and dirt all over him. His hair is grungy and he looks as though he hasn’t shaved in a long while. He’s bent over and appear to be staring into space. He isn’t really doing anything in particular and just seems to be sitting there.
What thoughts would go through your mind to see someone in that state? Without speaking a single word to this person or knowing any of his background, your perceptions would decide for you. These perceptions would be defined by previous experience and what you may have been taught or told by people of influence in your life.
One side of the coin, depending on your perspective, is that you may think this man is homeless. You may assume that he’s decided to have a rest while wandering the streets, perhaps begging for change outside of eateries in the hopes of getting himself a meal.
On the other side of the coin, and the one you wouldn’t know unless you spoke to him, is that this man just finished a 10-hour construction shift and is waiting in exhaustion for his wife to come out of one of the local businesses so he can go home with her, explaining the filth and dirt and his general demeanour.
Which one is accurate? Without first hand information, you’d be hard-pressed to make an informed decision. But your perceptions would fill in the gaps for you, whether you like it or not.
The lesson here is that lovely quote by Edwin Rolfe that tells you not to judge a book by its cover. Everyone has a story. The question is whether we choose to guess what that story is, based solely on what we see and hear or whether we choose to believe that there’s always a chapter we haven’t read yet.
Basic humanity and compassion are not extinct. They are still very much alive and we need simply not be afraid to let them surface. Although your perspectives may have provided you with some of the guidelines you’ve needed to get through life, it’s okay to allow your scope of the world to expand and learn. This is how growing is done. ☯