Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)
I’ve mentioned here many times that I am learning how crucial it is to see life from multiple angles. Getting not only information from people with opposing viewpoints, but really trying to step into their shoes; see from their perspective. It’s just so crucial to communication, to cooperation, interaction… to society in general.
And so often, we—being human, flawed, self-absorbed—we aren’t even aware that there are other legitimate perspectives!
Our son Ian has been very interested in the World War II time period of history. He’s been learning every bit he can not just about the battles, but the people—the leaders in particular—involved in the story. Winston Churchill and FDR, as well as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. He’s previously read about Woodrow Wilson and WWI… definitely has a serious passion for history and biographies!
So much so that Mom (Jen) has even recently taken up a book about Roosevelt titled, “FDR’s Splendid Deception”, about the fact that President Roosevelt was never seen public in his wheelchair, so as to not appear weak. From all accounts, it’s a fascinating story.
Somehow all of this brought to mind a movie I had seen some time back. I posted a mini-review on that movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, and it’s counterpart, Flags of our Fathers, here on this site in 2007. Please go ahead and click the link and read that story. (That’s actually the main reason for this post: that you’d re-read that older post!)
The fascinating thing was, Flags was released first, and then Iwo Jima. They depicted the exact same story from history, but from opposite sides of the battle.
How much better off we’d be if we could do that with nearly every conflict or disagreement!
For a long time now, Jen and I and I have been reading through a modern translation of the Federalist Papers called The Original Argument. In Federalist #1, Alexander Hamilton addresses this subject (in an atmosphere where there were passionate arguments for and against the proposed Constitution):
Since the motives behind each of the opinions are so strong, it is certain that wise and good people will be found on both sides of the issues. This fact should remind us all to remain modest in our opinion—no matter how right we think we are.
I think that is still my favorite quote from all the papers we’ve examined so far. And again, how different would our political climate be today if that were the way everyone approached every issue, whether controversial or relatively benign?
Forget politics. What if we all treated each other that way? What if we presumed that we were not smarter, better, right-er than everyone else around us.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
That’s where it starts. You can’t really even care about the perpective of your adversary or opponent—or anyone—if you know you are in some way (or all ways) superior.
I’d really encourage you to read that post about Letters from Iwo Jima, and as I recommended now almost five years ago, if you haven’t seen it… do.
The more we can see things from other view points, other perspectives, the more we can live at peace with others around us. (Which is what Paul says we need to do in the verse just before what I quoted above.)
So I encourage you to take a walk in someone else’s shoes today. You might be surprised what you see.
Scripture quote is Philippians 2:3-4, from the New Living Translation