Monthly Archives: January 2017

Lakes and Ponds

The world I have been experiencing lately has had me thinking a lot about perspective:  my perspective, the perspectives of others, how to widening my perspective, yet sharpen my focus, how to hear and understand the perspective of others, and many other angles.

Perspective is complicated, but I think it is an important part of how we go about solving complex problems.  I think this is especially true when those problems, and the solutions, involve more than one person.

To aid in this discussion, here is today’s evidence that all life lived is relative and dependent on perspective. The picture above is of beautiful Lily’s Lake outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. However,  I’m pretty sure in many places on the East Coast of the U.S. it would be named as Lily’s Pond. This is not to say that it has been misnamed, rather I’m pointing out that how we see something is dependent on our prior experiences.

If we have limited prior experience, than we will limit our perspective. Here’s the thing: everyone has limited prior experience.  Regardless of age or of life lived, no one can have every possible experience.  I’m making what I hope is an obvious point, because I think it is a point that is often missed when trying to have discussions with others, especially when the individuals involved may have wildly different perspectives.

This point needs to be acknowledged and respected.  By acknowledging that we all have something to learn from each other we open our minds to try understand from where someone else is coming.  By opening our eyes, ears, and minds to the experiences of others we can expand our own perspectives.

There is a benefit to expanding your perspective.  It allows for more knowledge, from which to draw upon when solving problems.

To expand one’s perspective, I think it it worth seeking out new and novel experiences.  I think that having more experiences will allow one to be able to question their own perspectives.  By questioning one’s own perspective, a person may in fact able to be more sure of where they stand with the solution to a problem.  At the very least, it allows one to acknowledge that there may be multiple solutions to a problem.

If we insist we are looking at a lake while someone else insists that they are looking at pond, instead of just agreeing that it is a body of water, it will be difficult to move together toward any solution.

Value

Value.

Everyone has it.

We don’t always see it; we don’t always appreciate it.  This is true even with our own value.

We need to take time and pause; take time to reflect.  Take time to see the value that others have and that we have. Everyone has strengths, even if sometimes those strengths need to found and developed.

We should see the value in others—we need to.  We need to look with open eyes, we need to look both beyond and within ourselves.   This is especially true when individuals can’t see the value in themselves.

Valuing others is one way we can work to fulfill our collective potential.

Our personal value is not increased at the expense of others, rather, our value is increased when we respect and develop the worth of others.  The ability to accomplish this starts with open eyes, continues with an open mind, and grows with an open heart.  Great accomplishments can be at hand through teamwork, but to begin, one must realize the value of all those involved.

The Power of Words

Recent world, local, and personal events have had me ruminating on a particular childhood saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Why is it that we lie to children like this? Why is it that we teach children to lie to themselves?  The hard truth is that words do hurt.  Words have meaning.  We use words to communicate.  We use words to spread ideas and to discuss feelings and emotions.  We use words to motivate and inspire and persuade.

Unfortunately, we also use words to berate, weaken, harm, and sow doubt.   Words are used to drive people apart.

We (yes this includes me) do not always choose our words carefully.  We don’t always get across what we want to communicate because we often let our emotions get the better of us.  Also, we can not always control how our messages are received.  Worse yet, sometimes the intent is to cause harm with our words.

We always need to try to communicate clearly.  We need to control our words.  There are individuals in the world who understand this concept and use the power of their words to cause division and discontent.  There are those who use words to damage, to hurt, to oppress, to weaken, and to shame.   Thankfully, there are also those whose words are used to develop worth and to build pride, to strengthen bonds, and to shine light in the darkness.   

My words may not always be elegant, gracious, or the clearest, but if I do not attempt to use my words, then I am doing myself a disservice.  There is power in words and through words I can find my own power.  This power may start small, but at least it is something and it is better than wasting it and not using it at all.  I hope that what power of words I do possess can bring people together.  I hope that it can help people to think for themselves and that it can serve to build bridges between those with different ideas, opinions, and beliefs.

Because I have learned that words have power, I find that it is my duty to use words to instigate thought and constructive discourse.

Another saying that is often thrown about is, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” I think that this one happens to be true. It is not through the sword that we will bring peace, equality, and education to the world, but with the pen. This is because the pen (communication) requires time and patience, and can explain subtleties while the sword is swift and unyielding and does not leave space for deliberation.

The sword divides, while with the right words the pen can unite .