Originally written in TACKED THOUGHTS for The Freeman
by Nancy Unchuan Toledo
Not a day goes by that I don’t use my computer. Yet, even then, I don’t really notice how dirty the screen gets until it is almost unbearable. That’s when I take out my trusty little cloth, which according to the manufacturer is made of microfibers (whatever that means), and then I just wipe my screen and it’s as good as new.
I wish it were that simple to clean the lens of my mind’s eye. Unfortunately though, I’m not always aware that I do have a lens on. I view the world and judge events and ideas from a certain perspective-a perspective that includes my faith background, my schooling, my family life, my chosen career and all other perspectives that just sort of group to be, for lack of a better word, a “Nancy Toledo” perspective. This “lens,” this perspective more or less defines how I act, react and make choices about the world around me. There’s nothing wrong with having this lens since this is how we all operate. The problem arises when I am not aware that I do have a lens. Because unless I realize I have one, I won’t realize that others have one of their own and I will expect them to see the world the same way I do.
One of my greatest fears is to become a person who has ceased to grow, who has ceased to learn. And more often than not, the way I grow and expand my horizon, or recalibrate my perspective is when I allow myself to see things from someone else’s point of view. As a teacher, I am always amazed at how year after year I can teach the same text or the same story and somehow a student always manages to raise a point that I completely previously missed out. And when I am confronted with that situation, I am reminded of each human being’s taken-for-granted inherent uniqueness.
While I was growing up, every time my perspective and my world view would be challenged by someone who I did not perceive was in authority over me, I would react very haughtily. The person would immediately be crossed off my mental list of people who were on the “right” side-which for me meant my side. And when I went to college, I passed through an everyone-is-entitled-to-his-own-point-of-view phase and accepted that everyone was right, which meant that no one really was. As I’ve grown older though and gained more insight (not to mention more maturity), I realized that each perspective was meant to be listened to and respected but not necessarily followed.
Yes, there is much we can learn if we give each other a chance. The true measure of our growth as individuals is realizing that our varying viewpoints and worldviews challenge each of us to search not only for who is right but what is true.