My mom once taught me about the value of hearing another’s perspective. She said, “imagine two people are standing and facing one another. There is a copy of Time magazine between them. Both agree that the magazine is Time Magazine. One person is describing what he sees as the front cover, the other person is describing the back cover. Both parties are correct. They just have a different perspective from where they are standing. But to learn about their view, broadens our minds and makes us more open to understanding.
I had a boyfriend (once, a very long time ago.). He took me to his Baptist church in the Deep South. That day, they preached about the evils of homosexuality and the sin of Sodom. I listened, without judgment and I learned about the world from their perspective. Even though I didn’t agree with it, I didn’t argue nor try to change anyone. It was an important lesson in hearing another point of view and it didn’t diminish my own. (But um, yeah, we did eventually break up.)
In our society today – we are so quick to make the other person ‘wrong’ for articulating their point of view. Especially when it doesn’t jive with ours. We have lost the openness and ability to have reasonable discourse. This makes us feel isolated and alone.
In the olden days, we were able to discuss things with those who did not share our perspective. Sure, we’d argue, we’d disagree, but we didn’t “unfriend” them. Part of the problem in today’s discourse is, we are posting our opinion, we aren’t looking at a person, face to face. We lose the ability to see nuance and ready body language. And we sometimes lose the ability to see that it’s another human being standing before us.
I take great comfort in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi who said in his Peace Prayer:
“Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
The reward for listening to opposing views is:
that we gain an opportunity to be open,
to be understanding. And in this way, we will be more at peace.
Do you have the grace to allow others to have their perspective?