“It is from the oppression of our perspective that we need to be liberated. “Anthony De Mello
I can only write from my experiences and perspective. My perspective or filter is a function of the influence from my parents, education, life experiences, temperament, religion, society, and culture. In other words, each one of us is vastly different from the other. Some of us think concretely, primarily addressing what is happening to the world around us. Others think abstractly, weaving what is around us into patterns and nuances. Each perspective is equally valid.
For example, I never understood how various cultures could be girded by foundational thought that differed from my American culture. I learned this lesson living in Morocco for five years. Americans take pride in their independence. Capitalism breeds competition among the individuals. We all need our own space here in America. Doesn’t everyone?
My very first experience in Morocco proved otherwise. The customs area at the Casablanca airport was not as organized as it is today. Frightened, apprehensive, excited, I stepped off the plane with my dog Katie and my carry-on luggage and headed towards the customs area. Where were the partitions that separated the mob and kept us organized in nice neat lines? Why was everyone pushing against me? WHAT WAS GOING ON? One massive, heaving bulge of humanity continued to press towards the front where the five custom officers were seated at their stations. It wasn’t raucous. It was just assumed that we (as a community) would all eventually get through and we did! Community is the unspoken strength of this culture. Competition is diminished. Urgency is practically nonexistent. I was constantly reminded of this lack of necessity for an individual’s space when my students would closely gather around me. I would stretch out my arms to define my boundary in a good humored fashion claiming “ I need my space –I am an American!” They thought that I was just being silly.
How can we better understand and appreciate one another? Anthony DeMello in his classic book, The Way To Love, has some practical and challenging suggestions… “ Imagine that you are in a situation with a person that you normally avoid. Stay there and refuse to change the situation. Observe how your filter insists that you experience a negative emotion.( anger, anxiety, irritation). Realize that this person isn’t causing negative emotions. They are just going their way, being themselves, doing their thing, whether right or wrong, good or bad. In fact, someone with a different filter in the same situation may react calmly to the person, even happily.”
“Inside your head there is a whole program, a set of demands about how the world should be, how you should be and what you should want.”Anthony De Mello
Another example in how a change in perspective creates a better life is portrayed in the film, Life Is Beautiful. A family is forced into a concentration camp. The father is determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings. The father uses his imagination and convinces his son that the place is actually just a big game. He finds inventive and endearing ways to keep his son from understanding the truth of the situation.
Don’t we all insist that reality be reshaped to conform to our perspective? Isn’t it about time we change our filter? Complete impartiality is impossible, but awareness is the first step of change. Good Luck!
The Caliph’s House: A Year In Casablanca– Tahir Shah( Amusing book on trying to build a house in Casablanca)
Under The Tuscan Sun– Frances Mayes (Restoring an abandoned villa in Tuscany)
Five Ways To Change Your Perspective and Be Happier- Sharon Lechter