By: Butch Swank
When I was younger, I felt like the word ignorant was an insult. The older I get, the more I realize it is really more of a condition that can be changed. Besides, you truly cannot know what you don’t know, so why is that a negative? The annoying twist is that the more you get to know, the more you realize there is so, so much more you don’t actually know! I’m writing this because I feel we should be careful writing off people we perceive as ignorant. Think about it: we’ve all been in situations where we were totally ignorant of something, and some kind soul took the time to explain things in a way we could understand. Wasn’t that a good feeling? It was, right? Patience sure seems to be a powerful antidote to ignorance.
Perspective: I was at church on Sunday, and my pastor gave a sermon on Lazarus. It turns out that Lazarus was a dude with two sisters, Mary and Martha, and all three were friends with Jesus. Jesus was out of town and got word that Lazarus was deathly ill. Instead of packing up and heading out immediately, Jesus decided to wait a couple of days. Upon finally arriving at the home of his friends, one sister, Martha, came out to let Jesus know Lazarus was dead. Our pastor wondered why Mary did not come out to greet Jesus. Was Mary mad at him for not coming immediately, knowing full well that Jesus could have saved her brother? Was she disgusted because Jesus couldn’t be bothered to come in time? Was she feeling foolish for following someone that didn’t step up in a time of need? I feel these are all legitimate questions, and asking them made the lesson much more real to me because I would one hundred percent have had all three of these emotions.
I share this because Pastor Elizabeth demonstrated something rarely seen nowadays – the ability to look at the world from another’s perspective. By looking through Mary’s eyes, Pastor Elizabeth made a story we’ve heard before suddenly very interesting and relatable. The more I navigate my personal and professional life, the more I see that communication, or lack of it, is one of the largest causes of problems today. See, we are all in such a hurry that we assume (or hope) that people really get where we’re coming from and understand our perspective, and the reality is that most do not. Spoiler alert: Jesus deliberately waited so that he could raise Lazarus from the dead and, in doing so, prove his power to any doubters.
Time is a luxury. But I ask us all to consider being willing to invest a few precious moments contemplating what things look like from the other person’s perspective. I know I sure don’t most times, heck, it’s almost all the time. However, sometimes it really does pay to think, “What are they thinking? Why do they feel this way? What is important to them versus what is important to me?” These are considerations that rarely get any thought. If you do this, it allows you to have more empathy toward the other person. By definition, if you can think the way another person is thinking, you will care about them more. You get them! I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but with us all having so little time, we immediately get mad or upset when someone doesn’t act the way we think they should. If we could take a moment to consider their perspective, our communication with each other just might improve substantially.
I’m not saying this will solve all the world’s problems, but let’s be real, this world we’re living in sure does seem to be in a rough patch that seemingly gets a bit worse day by day. By taking some personal agency and really trying to understand each other better, I argue that is one step towards things getting better instead of worse. It’s simple, but often the simplest solutions are the very best ones. So, let’s get out there, learn something new, try having some patience before blowing your top, and try looking at the world through someone else’s eyes. We’ll then have less ignorance, more patience, and a broader perspective. It’s hard to imagine that doing so would not just improve our day-to-day lives but also make the world a much better place!
Email Butch Swank at: email@example.com