Perspective

I love the double and triple meaning of words. “It all depends upon your perspective.” What does that mean? Converging railroad tracks in the distance? Or, what you see depends upon where you stand. Generally, I know this to be true, there is a far better chance of understanding if you can actually see the problem.

So, having a place to stand, allows you to see. Changing perspective allows you to see more of a thing. I remember one of the things that stuck with me after reading Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” was the concept of a Fair Witness. Someone who was trained to tell the absolute truth. Ask them what color a house was, and they would reply, “the color I see reflected on this side is off-white!”. It could have been painted blue on the back side. A change of perspective would have allowed that to be seen.

Often we extend our “sight” to our “thought”. Our vision of history is not only from our personal experience, but also from what we have read and heard. When we throw in a well produced film or video, it is almost as if we have seen it personally. That can be a slippery slope.

Gathering a balanced perspective in history can be difficult when the victors are the only voices. Emphasizing the other side without facts also creates a dilemma. I try as hard as I can, but I can’t read what is not written. And I suppose I can’t fully trust what is written without knowing the specific perspective.

I’m writing this now after I’ve just listened to “Murder Most afoul” by Bob Dylan. It was written and recorded almost a decade ago, but Dylan just recently released it. It’s a rather long ballad about John Kennedy’s assassination. It brought me back. While I wasn’t an adult, it probably was my first “adult-like” thought. I had a first hand experience. I followed the news, I watched the press conferences, I saw Ruby shoot Oswald in the parking garage. It was multiple murders most foul.

From my perspective things might have actually started to spin out of control from that point. A few flashes of brilliance, but mostly darker going forward. RFK, MLK, Vietnam, Chicago, Kent State, Nixon, Agnew, on and on…

It’s a personal perspective that hasn’t changed much from what I’ve seen and read since. I hope I live long enough to see a paradigm shift, where things are building, more then they are falling apart.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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