Perspective is something that typically changes over the span of our life.
For example, as a child, our perspective is very limited, not only in height (anyone remember what it’s like to be visually in line with everyone’s belly button?), but also limited in experience.
As a child, our perspective is confined to the immediate world around us: our family, our home, and maybe our church or school.
But as we grow, that perspective evolves.
We meet new people. We encounter new places. We discover new things. And all of those things play into how we view the world and how we understand life. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, in most situations this is good and helps us be a well-rounded human being.
Of course, as a believer in Jesus, as my perspective changes, I should always filter any of it and all of it through the Gospel. Jesus is the plumb-line for everything.
The difficulty I see though is when we refuse to allow other’s perspective to change our own and/or be different than our own. Why do we automatically assume that the experiences we’ve had are the end all, thus really limiting our view? Allowing for others to think differently doesn’t mean we approve of their stance, rather, it gives them the freedom to think for themselves.
This type of talk can sometimes freak people out because it involves opening one’s mind. Bare with me for a moment. Know when I say “open one’s mind” I’m simply talking about considering a different perspective than one we might have personally.
For instance, racism.
Yes, I am bringing it up again.
Before we adopted Enoch and Phoebe, racism did not sit well with me, but it was never personal. The closest racism got to me was when I had to graciously deal with a gentleman attending our church who was trying to promote segregation as biblical and right.
So before I became the father of two Black children, racism was something outside of me. I knew it existed. I knew it still reared it’s evil head. But it never affected ME. My perspective was limited on the topic.
Enter Enoch and Phoebe.
And everything changed.
No longer was racism outside of me. It now affected me personally. You mess with my children, you mess with me.
My perspective changed.
We began listening, and asking questions, and listening, and asking more questions, and listening some more… to our Black friends.
We were in shock. SHOCK.
They weren’t race baiting (or whatever the go-to phrase is for trying to brush the truth under the rug about racism). They were simply sharing their perspective; their experiences and their life.
We asked. They shared. We listened.
And my perspective on life is different because of it.
So when I hear people say things like “white privilege doesn’t exist” or “racism doesn’t exist as much as people make it out to” or “don’t make this about race” or “the gunman was going after a church, not because they were black.” When I hear those things, it makes me sad.
I absolutely agree not everything is about race. And sure, there are people that attempt to take advantage of the racism cry. But those things should not automatically disqualify the perspective and experiences of non-white individuals.
Really, this concept isn’t just about race conversations. It can be applied to anything in life.
When considering someone else’s perspective, we don’t have to approve or agree with it. But we should at least give each other the respect and courtesy of listening. Our perspective may change or it may not. In the end we may have learned something and we honored a fellow human being by considering the fact that we may not know everything.
In the end, what do we have to lose?
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” – Philippians 2:1-5