Perspective is a Product of Position

(Lesson #2 from the B-C-batical)

While Minne-Mex was working at Stradford Flats we quickly learned the disadvantage of being a short (in stature) crew.   The building owner was tall.  We would think we were all done with an apartment, it looked great to us, then he would walk in for a final inspection and, bam!  He would find unfinished spots on the walls above doors frames or over the cabinets.   We had thought everything was great, but our shortness dictated our perspective and created a “blind spot”.   While it was frustrating to be told of the unfinished area, truth is the tall-building-owner did not create the problem, he could just see it clearly because his perspective was different.  But hope was not lost; even though we were naturally short we could gain a different perspective through the amazing invention of a ladder.  With a little adaptation we could begin to see above the door frames; what had been invisible to us had now become visible.  (and in the process we all became better at checking above frames and cabinets) It seems simple enough, what we can see, and how we see it, depends on where we are located.

Position is a Product of Perspective

We use this understanding to take a picture, work on a project, and even to interpret movies, books, and eyewitness accounts of a crime.  But for some reason many people reject the idea of varied perspectives when it comes to how we view the world around us.  It is so easy to believe that our “World View” is the only correct way to interpret the world around us. Even though it is much more complex than an unfinished spot above the door,  how we view, experience, and interpret the world  is also subject to the places; physical, philosophical, and economical which control our perspective.

I know some of my evangelical friends are getting real nervous about now.  I’ve struggled with the same issues you are thinking, “But there is absolute TRUTH,  and what you are saying sounds like relativism!”  Let’s go back to the issue of the unfinished spot above the door, the absolute truth was, “There is an unfinished spot above the door” , however my short body, and those of my co-workers, kept us from seeing all that was there.  We needed to hear from another’s perspective, or else use tools to help us see more clearly, in order to view the complete truth of the paint and the door frame. Even within scripture there are examples of the relativity of truth.  The Four Evangelists;  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, tell the same story but from their various perspectives and purposes they include and “miss” various pieces of the life of Christ Jesus.  All are true, but all are also based on the perspective of the writer.  As mere humans is it possible that any one of us can see and understand the vast truth of the universe?  We need to be comfortable with the truth the apostle Paul taught, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  1 Corinthians 13:12.    We don’t fully know or understand anything at this time.

To live with the absolute truth that “none of us fully know anything,”  can be uncomfortable.  Yet, if we embrace humility and a community we can flourish in the midst of this uncertainty.   Humility, as we can always be taught something new and community, because we need others to show us where our blind spots are and reveal to us the unfinished places we had not yet seen.  But, if all the people in our community are the same “height” can they help us see over our blind spots?   If everyone in your community comes from the same places physically, philosophically, and economically, can they really inform you of perspectives you had not yet seen?

For this reason the Beloved Community must be a diverse community, so that we can more fully understand the world in which we live.  Build relationships that will help you see over and around the edges that your present location keep you from seeing.  And if you don’t have a “tall” friend, get a ladder in the mean time.  Use tools to help you learn and grow such as books and movies that will help you see from a new perspective.

Thoughts in Images..

Take a look at these pictures and ask your self the accompanying questions. What messages would you receive as a child about life, your community, and your role in the society if you were born and raised in each of the neighborhoods shown?

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Pretend this is the view from your bedroom window as a child, how might your physical location impact your world view?

Suburban Park WIndow .

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.I’ve seen a wall plaque that states something like – “The world I see gives proof to the God I do not see”   If that is true, would the image of God change when you live in places of injustice and lacking beauty? How has your physical and economic location influenced your world view?

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3 thoughts on “Perspective is a Product of Position”

  1. There’s a lot to consider in this one MJ, but let’s start with these questions: did you know that the spots above the door frames and cabinets existed? Did you think prior to finishing that there could be spots that you cant see that will need to be finished? By process of thought, could you have finished those spots without perspective?

    1. wow, I thought I had replied to this, but we always knew there was a chance the spots existed and so tried to angle the paint brush so that we would get them – BUT we couldn’t know for sure unless we got up there or if someone told us, also when the carpenters put the trim on (after our initial painting) they often cracked the drywall, and we couldn’t know that with out the tall guy or the ladder – and so to your last question NO – we could do better but never know or sure.. thanks

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