Perspective. A very interesting word. My go-to friend, Dictionary.com, lists the top four definitions in spatial terms. For the purposes of this post we are going to jump right over the physical aspects and jump into the reasoning/reflective definitions. They are:
Dictionary.com ( Hi, again, friend) defines the adjective aspect of 'understanding' as " attitude."
Recently a friend was telling me about a CD presentation he was listening to. He found the core idea extremely compelling. It describes how people are gravely divided in viewpoints and profoundly unwilling to listen to 'the other side' of the picture. According to the speaker on the CD, those people holding differing sides of so many issues are unwilling to look at things from different perspectives, not just with the fear of having their opinions changed but a bitter rejection of even trying to attempt understanding the other side. This includes major issues such as religion, social concerns, political party stances right down to minor topics such as buttock enhancement.
My friend and I discussed what a peaceful world this would be if people were open to listening to how other people feel about any specific subject. My friend was very positive about the wonderful changes this practice could bring to the world. We both agreed that many conversations end up as arguments because so many people are so focused on defending their own beliefs or viewpoints that we don't hear the other person's words, let alone understand their meaning.
My friend and I then moved the discussion to the way girls and women are devalued in our culture, and, yes, by using the word 'culture' I am including men and women. You see, the way it happens is, when women are raised in a society that devalues them, they don't value themselves or other women. Yes, we do get a little snarky with each other. We are often cruel to each other, we compete with each other and we judge each other....shame on us.
I made the statement that I believe that organized patriarchal religions systematically support and encourage society's oppression of women (and female children). The devaluing of women almost encourages abuse and rape as an entitlement to some men.
I didn't use those exact words but my open-minded friend jumped to the defense of his particular patriarchal religion. The conversation took a nose dive.
Whoa! Wait a minute! What happened to the idea of trying to understand another person's perspective?
What I learned from that conversation:
1. Listening and understanding is a good idea but it should start with someone else.
2. The bible does not diminish women nor support the continued inequality of women in spite of the words that describe woman as chattel, unclean, and demand their silence, especially in .
3. I am going to suffer serious consequences after death for my questioning and lack of participation in organized patriarchal religion, even though participating (in my opinion) constitutes silent approval of the offensive portrayal of women.
4. Watch the road and keep my thoughts to myself......"Cow!"
Just for the record, I would like to share a couple of quotes from the Bible. Not sure which edition of the bible but can I just interject that if The Word is so dang important, why are the 'words' different in so many of the hundreds of editions of Bibles?
"A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."
"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says."
1 Corinthians 14:34
"....to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
If you find any of the scripture above offensive to your moral code, by all means, please avoid Leviticus 12, wherein women who have given birth to a daughter are twice as "unclean" as a woman who has given birth to a son. It goes on to demand that a woman who has been raped and resides in the countryside must marry her rapist! If a woman in the city is raped without crying out, the Bible demands her to be stoned to death. (p.s. when I was raped the monster put his hands around my throat and threatened to kill me if I didn't stop screaming. Either way, the woman loses.).
I love Jesus but will He send me to hell for thinking that the Bible is one of the most mysoginistic books in existence?
Listening for understanding how another feels.....what a concept! When listening-for-understanding becomes the norm then maybe my friend and I can revisit the conversation. Conversation in our relationship is "in the box" and there will be no stepping out of the box unless the box itself gets a little bigger through the general concensus of society, then our relationship may be able to stretch....maybe.
Until then our conversations will probably sound like:
"How you doing?"
"Good. How you doing? "
"Want to talk about something meaningful?"
"Not for nothing!"