What’s a little understanding?

We live in our own realities. We all wish we could make everyone see things from our own perspective, but the simple truth is that every single person is unique with their own life experiences. As a result, we see things differently to each other. Two people can be watching the same thing and take different meaning from it. I find it fascinating observing other people, listening to what they believe to be right. I may not agree with them and may see things differently, but it intrigues me to want to know why they see things their way. What caused them to be how they are?

Recently, for example, I attended a rather sensitive workshop. I was there just to observe and take in the material. I wasn’t to participate. As it began, one of the people in the room was adamant she didn’t need to be there. She believed she had no issues, that she was open and very accepting. She believed the session was unnecessary and, I took from what she was saying, that she felt she could take the session and teach everyone else.

As the session progressed, with the use of skilled questioning and insightful material, I watched and observed her change. I even heard her at one point say, “oh, I didn’t realise that”. Thankfully, as the afternoon passed, she began to be more open to discussing and learning. The thing is, there’s no right or wrong, we are all entitled to be who we are and live how we choose to. However, I believe there is something wrong with refusing to learn and grow. I believe you should absolutely stick to your ideals but there should not be anything wrong with exploring and understanding alternatives. After all, how can you be adamant that your way is right if you’ve never considered any other?

I remember a discussion I had when I was about 14years old. I had an English assignment to work with a peer to dive into opposite view points on a subject and debate them. We each picked a to and an against stance. My friend and I chose to argue a book – Harry Potter. I had not read Harry Potter (still haven’t) but she had. In researching my viewpoint for against, I decided to investigate the reason people don’t agree with these books. At the time, there were religious groups and people who were strongly against children reading them. So, with this in mind I sought to ask people at my Church what they thought.

My father suggested I approach a senior member of the church who was normally quite opinionated. I was nervous to do so but, he was surprisingly open to discussing my topic for school. We had a chat for a while and I’ve never forgotten his response. He encouraged me to read the books. He said to go an explore and to see what the world has to offer. He didn’t seem to have any doubts that reading these books would alter my faith in the Church.

And, he had a good point. I haven’t read the books, but not because of religion, I’ve watched the movies though. However, last weekend I picked up a random book that intrigued me. It’s called, “On Death Row” by Mike James. It’s a genuine, honest look into some ‘chilling stories of men and women sentenced to die’. And it certainly is chilling so far. I am only half way through the second chapter at the moment. The first story alone was difficult to digest.

Why read such a book? I don’t know what made me pick it up, but I’m intrigued to know more about life, and about people from all walks of life. To know what these people did to warrant being on death row, I’m curious. To know what happens in those final moments, it’s difficult to comprehend. But, it’s made me even more grateful for the life I have. 

I think everyone is entitled to their views. We can’t and don’t have to accept other people’s views as our own, but we can take the time to explore and understand why they think how they do. If for anything, so that we can better understand ourselves. 

As Albert Einstein put it, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.

And as Leonardo Da Vinci put it, “The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”

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