Sunday, January 11, 2009

Behind the fence

As a somewhat profound conversation often include familiar expressions such as “I can so relate to…”, “I totally understand what you…” and “I know exactly what you mean …”, we get to assess that both subjectivity and compassion truly have become us when it comes to listening to and caring for the others. This is especially relevant in cases where we can clearly identify with what they are going through. In addition, those two notions go hand-in-hand as being a people-person not only pushes you to feel sincere sympathy and understanding, but as the definition of compassion states, “it is [also] accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."

But then a sudden thought came up: bringing me to wonder about the fine distinction between objectivity and subjectivity, asking myself how it would be like to actually sit in a jury. Surely, giving a honest opinion or piece of advice always comes from the heart and your right-hand mind, no matter how close you are with someone…

…Or wait a second, is that really true? Consider the times where you were expected to have a clear-cut objective stand on a subject; do you not reckon that being judgmental or even "hard" on people does seem much easier when not directly connected to the person? Would the answer be a crystal clear yes? Most definitely. But when the same wrong doings are committed by someone you know/appreciate/love… Even if you aren't directly concerned since it's not your story and problems to solve, you recognize that your level of tolerance and humanness instantly goes up a notch. Of course, it is not presumed that because kindness and familiarity came into the way, that your vision started to blur your very own idea of right and wrong. But it forces you to take out your goggles and look further into the other side of the fence, helping you gain new perspectives. Finally, everything appears to be so much bigger as you realize that the two sides of a story can maybe involve, not only a person you care about but also, in the best or the worst of cases, the fence just turns into a mirror.

Recollect all the times you had a strong opinion on a sensitive topic, all those years being so very sure about your thoughts on this and that, even perhaps believe you know better… What happens if those principles are put into test? You will probably be tempted yet not give in, but don't ever conclude your morals cannot be shut down. Food for thought: “Never say never” wasn’t invented for nothing. Indeed, life sometimes brings you to the most surprising places, which are, for instance, being put in someone else’s shoes: those of one you were convinced you’d never ever be in. A little confused? Then try thinking outside the box and really imagine how it feels to be behind the fence.

The distinction between subjectivity and objectivity, to be given the permission to judge or not… takes a whole different dimension the very second you honestly comprehend this subtle analysis. "I know exactly what you mean... Don't I?" I've been there before." When you cross the line over to the unthinkable, like someone you love has, like someone you don’t appreciate has, like someone you do not know has… At the end of the day, it isn’t a question of which side of the fence you stand on that matters, what is important simply calls for yet another great reality check: experiences -- the best and especially the worst of them -- are only packaged with a handful of lessons. These people, whoever they are, manage to learn from them. And so will you! Piece of cake.