It’s a Matter of Perspective
By Ari Grayson ~
It’s human nature to see things only from our own personal perspective, but this parable illustrates how shortsighted this can be.
A lumberjack is walking through the woods when he spots a grove of big beautiful hard-wood trees. Just as he’s about to fell the first tree he hears a loud screech “Stop!” Startled, he looks up to see a small bird. “What are you doing?!” says the bird. “I’m cutting down trees to build homes,” replies the lumberjack. “But the trees are homes!” implores the bird.
We see things from our personal perspective and we are sure that we are correct, even before we’ve heard the perspectives of others. Sometimes we forget – or simply neglect – to sit down and learn the perspective of others. That’s a shame because learning different perspectives challenges our cognitive (mental) faculties. Learning about new perspectives forces us to evaluate information or ideas that are dissimilar to our own, perhaps even moderating our view through a process known as accommodation. Accommodating our views is not only important for building new neural pathways essential to a maintaining a healthy brain, it’s important for building healthy social interactions.
As many of you know, I host a show called “Perspectives” on kx.OneLaguna. Each week I try to address pressing issues affecting the community. Conventional wisdom generally holds that talking about politics or religion is too confrontational and should be avoided in “polite” society. Having long ago cast aside such “good manners” for the sake of knowledge, I focused on the first taboo, politics, for much of the last couple of months leading into the mid-term elections in November. Now I’m planning to tackle the second taboo, religion. Over the coming weeks I will have a few local guests that may challenge your thinking and hopefully help you to understand one another and our fellow community members a bit better.
My first venture into the treacherous waters of religion will take place on Sept. 20 when I’ll be talking about the struggle against anti-Semitism, Israel and Palestine, and recent events in the Middle East with Lisa Armony, director of The Rose Project of the Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County. The Rose Project emerged from the need for a strong, unified, local initiative to counter uncivil, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic discourse taking place at UC Irvine.
The following week, Sept. 27, my guest will be Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, an internationally known religious and spiritual leader serving the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Sheikh Yassir and I will be discussing the Muslim community here in Orange County, Islam, and recent events across the Muslim world and the Middle East.
Of course, bridge building across our community and across the globe is also extremely important. On Oct. 25 my guest will be Suzanne Seeley of UCI’s Olive Tree Initiative, created in response to tensions at UCI surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a desire to address them in a constructive and innovative way.
I hope and trust that these three guests will help us to understand, and to build positive relationships with, our friends and our neighbors across the Jewish, Muslim, and broader communities of Orange County. Please tune-in to hear each of my guests and to learn more about these very important topics.
One the many wonderful things about perspective taking is that it helps us to better appreciate how and why other people think, feel, and behave as they do. We don’t have to agree, but understanding the perspective of others is a major step in building respect for one another and to having healthy relationships despite our differences.
Perhaps if we all engage in a bit more perspective taking, we will not be so egocentric nor will we continue to act as though our perspective is the “only” perspective or the “right” perspective. Maybe we’ll even give pause next time before we seek to build homes from trees that already provide homes.
Dr. Ari É. Grayson
is host of Perspectives ~ with Dr. Ari Grayson, broadcast each Saturday on Laguna’s own KX.OneLaguna.com. He can be reached at [email protected]