Landscape of pebbles on a rocky path

Seeing where others are coming from

Thinking in part of community and in part of global awareness, isn’t it important to fully understand situations? To see where people are coming from; the influences that’ve formed them; the narratives or voices shaping their inner commentary on life and all that surrounds them. Don’t we hear different things? All seeing reality from different perspectives, in different lights, and interpreting it differently.

How much difference does it make? The stories we’re raised with; assumptions we have around certain characters or actions; and ideas around the weight of consequences or rewards different paths in life will be met with. Doesn’t it all inform how we approach things? Subtly shading our reading of the world around us with the inferences, judgements or hopes of all we’ve ever heard over the years (Notes One).

Almost as if we each have a different world in our heads, individually as much as collectively. The shared – or, conflicting – mindsets of nationality and unique mindsets of personality merging into our own, specific take on “life”. Yet, within and between our various communities, don’t those ideas on life converge? Jutting up against one another as we attempt to have just one conversation; despite all our subtle or dramatic differences.

Sharing space and meaning as we attempt to cooperate with one another seems an interesting challenge. Won’t we have different agendas? All hoping, perhaps, to get something different out of any interchange. Whether it’s economics or culture, isn’t there always give and take going on? All these compatible or diverging intentions, expectations and compromises as we each seek to push forward in our own directions. (Notes Two)

As if the world – as much as our local communities – is this strange convergence of disclosed or undisclosed interests crossing over one another in confusing, impenetrable ways. Each player coming from their own backstory, it’s intriguing to imagine which voices are actually speaking and what they’re ultimately aiming to achieve. Also, how many are fairly innocently being taken along for the ride.

My point, though, was that awareness of where people are coming from seems so important. Beyond the knowledge of history or current affairs being a simply academic pursuit or tick-box for citizenship, isn’t it vital that we understand who we’re engaging with? While we might all be having this one, increasingly hasty and tense conversation about “life”, there’s still a lot of nuance and history to our words and their meanings.

Grasping the context, the issues at stake, the underlying values or priorities – the firm or bendable lines – must be essential to communicating or interacting “successfully” with anyone on any matter. This sense in which we need to be using comparable terms and seeing life through others’ eyes if we’re to understand what everything means and how best to respond (Notes Three).

Whether it’s global players, local neighbours or digital strangers, don’t we need to know enough to place one another against a relatively thorough sense of where we each stand if we’re to relate well to other people?

Notes and References:

Note 1: The stories that we hear
Note 1: Connecting truthfully with life
Note 2: Reading between the lines
Note 2: Plausible deniability
Note 2: Economy as a battleground
Note 3: Can there be beauty in communication?
Note 3: Understanding & staying informed

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