A Different Perspective

Tulip is a very stubborn and somewhat intellectually impaired goat. She is also a mother of a three-week-old kid. We have just recently started letting them out into the pasture with the horses. They are doing fine and this shouldn’t be a problem, but we are having difficulty getting Tulip back into the pen at night. She is enjoying her freedom and we can’t seem to convince her that she and the baby will be better off if they are locked up in their own stall at night.

Ah, the trials of playing Old McDonald’s Farm. She just will not cooperate. I wish I could understand what was going on in her little head. Not much, I’m afraid. In fact, I’m inclined to think that about some people if I’m honest. Sometimes I just don’t understand why some people act the way they do at times.

Part of our struggle to understand one another is that we view life from a different reality than anyone else. We all have a unique experience of our journey here on earth and so we don’t always understand where someone else is coming from. This is the basis for much of the conflict in our lives and in the world. It can be difficult to see someone else’s point of view.

All of the current wars on our planet are based on differing perspectives of God and what is right and wrong. The conflicts within homes and businesses are due to the fact that each party involved believes they are right and so there is a struggle to be the “winner” in a situation and have your own perspective win out and be implemented. How do we get along and practice “brotherly love”?

Passing over to the standpoint of the other is a critical first step in reconciling differing worldviews. When we put ourselves in “someone else’s shoes” we are attempting to view things from their perspective. This is a difficult thing to do and we are not always successful, but it is a beginning to try. The problem is when we make no effort at all to understand that perhaps there is an opposing viewpoint that might make sense to another person and be equally as valid.

There are many difficult emotions that are ignited by misunderstanding—fear, anger, jealousy, and envy. All of these are disruptive to relationships. It is impossible to practice love when any of these exist. The reason is because the negative emotion displaces the positive. It doesn’t take long before there is a breakdown in communication and all efforts at understanding are abandoned.

This is basically what happened in trying to round up my goat the other night. I even got out the hose and tried herding her in with water—quite unsuccessfully I might add and I fear I have done nothing to establish a relationship of trust with her. But it is difficult to think like a goat. I have no experience at it.

In reality, though, are we any better with people? I’ve even heard some people referred to as an “old goat”. Stubborn. That pretty much describes most of us. We have a tendency to insist on our own way

Looking at life through the lens of others is an important skill to develop. When faced with the negative emotions of someone else we want to defend ourselves. Instead of lashing out or defending, we might try something new and put ourselves in their place and try to see with their eyes and feel with their heart.

When we are faced with another’s jealousy or anger it can be hurtful and definitely drives a wedge between two people. When you look from their point of view you understand that they are wounded and are striking out from their own sense of not being enough. When we understand this we can respond with compassion instead of hurt.

Most people act in a negative way because of an emotional wound. If you look at your own responses, you will find a similar pattern. The way that we can truly begin to love one another is to realize that we are all wounded and that love is the only antidote.

Of course, my goat runs from me in fear even though I am constantly coaxing her with love and treats. She doesn’t know that I have her best interests in mind. Even the cold shower from the hose was in hopes that she would run for shelter. She did not. My impatience and desperation led to a less than trust-building action. Hmm…it is probably the same thing that happens in many relationships.

We are constantly learning to understand, move outside of our own sphere, and encompass the reality of others. It takes patience, and time, and some help from Spirit. In fact, Spirit is the only one who can tune us in accurately to the viewpoint of another. Some Divine help is needed. But just think what a difference we would see in our world if we could honor the viewpoint of another. Mutual respect and a mutual regard for life would evolve. No one would feel compelled to kill others to protect their worldview. Now, there’s a great idea!