Gaining Perspectives

My Facebook news feed has changed drastically in the last three months. Before, I would see updates from friends about their personal lives; now, I see news articles, political cartoons, and posts to closed action groups. I now get my news from The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, The Global and Mail, Al Jazeera, The Economist, The Atlantic, FiveThirtyEight, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, AP, The Week, and News and Guts. And while I don’t follow them, I also do check Fox News and, begrudgingly, Breitbart (which I can’t even bring myself to link to). It’s information overload, but I need to see the headlines from across a spectrum of sources. I need to see how information is presented in hopes of finding the heart of the matter.

In this way, while it makes for a messy and often overwhelming view of current events, it’s helped me find what matters most to me. It’s also helped me continue to hold true to a pluralistic view of the world. I want to hear and try to understand multiple perspectives, because that is the only way that I will learn compassion and demonstrate empathy. Because that’s how I’m going to fight.

I’ve been watching The West Wing again (maybe for at least the 20th time, seriously), and after 9/11, the show did an episode that was outside of the plot. The episode, Isaac and Ishmael, walks the audience through a lock down of the White House during which time a group of high school students have the chance to talk with the staff about terrorism. In the end, Bradley Whitford’s character, Josh, tells the students that the only way to fight terrorism is to hold multiple world views, to be pluralistic.

Holding one world view, believing that only one possible way of life exists, limits our understanding of our world, and traps us in a small and boring box. I challenge you to think about your box and your world view and ask yourself “Am I getting different perspectives?” If the answer is no, look outside your box for a perspective you have not considered before, and open yourself up to at least trying to understand it. I truly believe that if more people did this, we would seek to compromise and build coalitions rather than shutting out “the other”. It would no longer be about pandering to the base but about reaching across the aisle to find common ground. It would become more about our similarities rather than our differences.

It isn’t going to be easy, but this is my hope for the future. What’s yours?

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