I know you are familiar with the teaching that much of what occurs in our lives is a matter of perspective. Did you watch the U.S. Open golf championship this past weekend? The winner was Rory McIlroy. Actually to say he won is an understatement, as he set or tied 12 U.S. Open scoring records. A remarkable young man, at the age of 22 he is the youngest winner ever of our national championship. In the process he established himself as one of the best players in the world. After the second round of the tournament, Rory had a fairly significant lead, but many of the commentators still wondered if he could win. If you follow the game you know that Rory was leading this year’s Masters Tournament with only 9 holes to play. But then his game deserted him and he lost by a fair margin. I for one did not think that would happen this week. My conclusion was based on my belief that Rory has a healthy perspective on life and the place golf occupies in his life. The basis of my belief? Shortly before the Open tournament he spent a week in Haiti with a group providing care in that earthquake ravished country. As important as golf may be to Rory McIlroy, what he observed in Haiti must have informed and shaped his perspective as to what is really important.
Some describe perspective as our view on the world- our social value system. We also form perspectives on specific issues or problems. Coming to understand a person’s perspective is important, as it may dictate whether we can gain their agreement- or at least avoid active opposition, when we need help. But here is where it gets really interesting. There may come a point where a person’s perspective transcends personal views or opinions and morphs into their reality. What do we do then? For starters we need to recognize that when someone forms such strongly held views, what should be a straight forward discussion can become highly emotive. To avoid confrontations requires more than merely presenting contrary opinions; you need to calmly and in a measured fashion present facts that support your position. And then let the facts sink in.
Finally, remember that in our day to day lives there are a lot of folks out there, particularly on Madison Avenue, that spend most of their waking hours trying to shape or alter our perspectives. Here is but one example. Have you ever noticed how promoters use the word “old”? Lots of new things are declared old. Planned communities and golf clubs are just two examples? Why? Older objects are viewed as dignified, they have a sense of stability. Thing take on a certain aura once they are old. Have you ever seen a new car called a classic? Have you ever heard of a twelve year old referred to as a sage? Old feels safe. My twin brother Bill taught me that. A world class commercial pilot and instructor, Bill earned his pilot’s license while we were in high school and I quickly became the designated passenger. When I went for my very first ride, Bill rented a Piper J-3 which in the 1960’s was at least 30 years old. I protested that I would not fly in such an old plane as it couldn’t be safe. “Of course it’s safe,” Bill replied, “how do you think it got too be so old!”
Here’s an attempt to change our perspective that I really liked. While in Key West Florida this winter I passed a store with a sign in the window, it read, “We buy junk and sell antiques”.