Measured Against Reality

Friday, September 29, 2006


A few years ago I was in some kind of south Asian store (Indian, I believe), when I saw a small, glass globe. It had the South Pole on top and the North Pole on the bottom. The first thing that I thought when I saw this globe is, “That’s upside down.” I’m sure most Americans would have exactly the same unwarranted reaction. The direction facing upward is completely arbitrary, but because the North is “more important” globes and maps always have it above the South.

That globe reminded me about perspectives, and that sometimes you have to take a step back from yourself and remember that your perspective influences how you see the world (in this case literally). You have to understand your prejudices, beliefs, morals, and experiences all filter, alter, or color what you see. Often this happens at a physiological level, and it can very difficult for you to be aware of it. But in order to truly understand the world, you have to make yourself aware.

In order to understand some things you have to get outside yourself, and understand how others with different prejudices, beliefs, morals, and experiences see the world the way they do because of all of those things. People with simplistic views of complicated issues who can’t or won’t step outside themselves almost inevitably make situations worse.

That globe sits on my shelf, and still reminds me of the same thing that made me pick it up and buy it years ago: perspectives.

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  • Great, so you're saying that in order to fully understand the universe, I have to not only discard my prejudices, but also be able to do handstands?! You drive a hard bargain for enlightenment, stu.

    By Blogger Jeremy, at 11:33 AM, September 29, 2006  

  • So how does one square a world of infinite perspectives with the ideal world of moral clarity? Should we (being moral and ethical people) hear out the perspectives of hypocrites, liars, and moral relativists? Is truly every perspective worth hearing, or do we have a moral imperative to accept only those views that truly enhance discussion and understanding?

    By Blogger Mr. Fantastic, at 12:17 PM, September 29, 2006  

  • Nick, I simply said that to understand what people are espousing, you have to understand them. I never said anything about everything being worth hearing.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 12:38 PM, September 29, 2006  

  • Great post. Sometimes we all lose touch with each other and how to relate. Not many people try to see from other people's perspectives, mainly because it does shatter their own take on the world. And that is a shame.

    By Blogger nick d, at 1:04 PM, September 29, 2006  

  • Way to deflate my erection, Stu. I'm just posing some questions. I'm gonna take my toys and go home.

    By Blogger Mr. Fantastic, at 7:38 PM, September 29, 2006  

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