May 28, 2012

a matter of perspective

When a certain public figure recently declared a change of view about something, many celebrated it, some were horrified by it, and others grumbled something like “well, it’s about time.” This last group has been on my mind since the announcement.

I think it’s very easy to forget how deep-seated beliefs can be and how often we adopt the traditions and viewpoints of our parents and older relatives, as well those that prevailed in our geographic, spiritual or academic communities. Shifting away from these influences can be difficult, especially if they discourage any shades of grey or questioning—or if we feel more comfortable leaving things as they are and not stirring up any contradictory thoughts.

From my own observations and experience, I can tell you that changing a well-established perspective can take years (YEARS) to change. It’s not a pleasant process. When people are trying to determine if they want to continue believing as they do, they can feel bewildered and adrift, anxious and uncertain. They can also feel deeply misunderstood.

People who hold different truths to be self-evident often cannot understand the mountain someone in flux is scaling. Because it’s not a mountain for them. They may have scaled it so long ago they’ve forgotten what the journey was like, or maybe they’ve been on the other side of it their whole lives.

I have longed for certain people in my life to understand what a big deal certain changes were for me, and I equally long to have patience for those who are being introduced to (or are struggling to embrace) a foreign idea, whether it’s a professional or personal one. 

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