Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's just terrible what they did to is still a planet to me!

What a fascinating concept in this chapter! I love what Loeb said as well as the way he says it.

"The more we listen to those who's experiences and perspectives are unfamiliar, the more we realize what draws us together."

This is just such a great idea, in my opinion. It sort of touches on the importance of stories in a previous chapter as well. What this statement says to me is that we can find common ground between us all when we take the time to learn to understand one another. It is a matter of perspective. I see it sort of like this: we are all looking at this strange sculpture at the same time, but from different angles, and in these different angles we see something that is unlike what we can see from any other point of view.

In this metaphor, I suppose the sculpture would be Life and we come to these different angles through the experiences that make us who we are. We are all unique creatures that have lived unique lives granting us our own unique view point, seeing something different in the same sculpture! I know this is a considerably abstract thought here (and Enrique, I'm just certain you've already rolled your eyes more times than I can count) but try to follow me on this. If we learn to understand each other, learn how it is that they have come to look at the sculpture from their angle, then we just might become able to see from their point of view and then we realize that they are seeing the same sculpture that we
are! This similarity brings us together and bridges a bond to create a sense of togetherness. To me, this is such an important aspect of life. I feel as though Leob is saying when we learn to appreciate and understand each other's perspectives in life, we grow closer together.

In this chapter, this concept is well exemplified in the story of Ms. Hazel Wolf. I really liked her story; she just seemed so fiery and passionate and lively through the illustrations in her youth or older days! One particular portion of her story talks about how she had brought together environmental groups, church associations and Native American tribes for a conference. (She was 81 at the time, a great reminder that age does
not stop us from doing something to make a difference.) After teasing one of the Native Americans a bit, he and Hazel end up becoming close friends and continue to work very well together in the years that followed. This illustrates how these two undoubtedly different people were able to come together in spite of their differences because their shared a common desire, which in this story was to block an oil port off the Washington coast. Very cool.

Having said that Loeb's above concept was so important to me personally, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I place myself in situations where I am around those of different view points on a regular basis. Whether it is in a class, on the light rail or in Hayden library, I tend to at least attempt to strike up conversations with interesting
people to try and get a glimpse of the sculpture from their vantage point.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I began talking with a gentleman who called himself John on the light rail. He had just said good bye to two men after a conversation about decent homeless shelters that the two men could possibly get to that evening. John told me all about how he was homeless for awhile and learned the insides and outs of living on the streets, knowing where to go for food, water, shelter, drugs and booze as well as other forms of...entertainment. He went on and on until finally I said the most obvious thing I could think of, commenting on how he now looked anything
but homeless, let alone a user or a drunk. He then told me about a brief, maybe 5 minute talk with some stranger that smiled in a kind way at him one day, regardless of John's physical state of being that hot summer afternoon; John said he looked "about as nasty as a cracked out, starving swine that was baking under the Phoenix sun, but this fool still shot me a smile. And he meant it." It was incredible hearing about the emotions John felt in the instant that the stranger looked John's way; he told me he felt embarrassed, depressed, selfish, suprised but most of all, he felt angry that any man could be so joyful in life while John, who was going day after day pretending he was happy with his life style that was being lived "in servitude to the almighty powders that be." John told me that he asked the guy how he could be so full of happiness and the man spoke with him, genuinely and straight foward without any fear or lying in him about his life and the decisions he had made. John said that from that day on, his life was changed, because that man had opened John's eyes and taught him how to see life from his perspective. I really cannot describe what an incredible event that conversation with John was to me. I met this kind, well dressed, $200 watch wearing man on the light rail who had lived such a different live than I have lived so far, yet still I found a common grounds, a beginning of camaraderie between myself and John within our twenty minute conversation. It is amazing to me how learning to see the sculpture from other's angles and learning why they see it from that angle really does bring us together.

Oh, and about the title. Totally random, I know. Couldn't really come up with something that encompassed all that I said here. And the following sentence is for those who didn't read my blog, since you'll never know I am talking about you: "How long is it going to take in our society to see a person with an eye patch and not assume that they are a pirate? I just saw a guy with a suit and a breif case, but he had an eye patch so all I saw was 'YARRR!' "

Tyler :]


Miss Chris said...

Tyler - great post. I am curious....if you had not been involved in SLICE, or other aspects of positive social change...would you have carried on such a long conversation with your light rail man? I hope so. Sometimes it is meeting people randomly, sharing our views and stories, that change us in the most impactful ways.

TylerMitchell said...

Chris, thanks so much for your comment!!

And yeah, I've certainly held this view for a while, that is I've always found that I learn a lot about the world and myself when I deal with others, more noticeably so when talking about something that matters. Though, SLICE has opened up different aspects of conversation with me, primarily in dealing with the homeless and with social actity.