Thursday, January 15, 2015

Perspectives

The subject that is running around my head today (and most days) is the idea of perspective - and really multiple perspectives.  The beginning of any exposition is perspective.  Each author is sharing perspective and even their perspective on multiple perspectives. 

My parents had a perspective on me as a child and I had a perspective of them as parents.  They were not perfect parents nor was I a perfect child.  But then again, what is “perfection” and we are back to perspective and multiple perspectives.  We can interview and survey vast numbers of people of what perfection is in their understanding.  Interviews will reveal stories and examples, surveys will force sort into categories (unless they allow for stories and examples).  Then it is up to the researchers to sort and code all of this.  Even the process of sorting and coding has the likelihood of bias due to the researcher perspectives.  

The Bible was written over millennia by many different authors, it has been copied and translated by many through the years.  Translation from one language to another is not an absolute - straight-forward process.  I remember when I was getting to know my wife.  I emailed her and she emailed back.  We have the potential to misunderstand each other in the same language, but she replied in a foreign language.  It took me about 30 minutes to find the language (this was before Google Translate and related tools existed).  The process to understand this new woman in my life was not only to understand her in English - we continue to work through that process still.  But having discovered the foreign language I began the process of translation.  I printed her email with gaps between the lines and then wrote in all the options that each word could mean.  Some words were very basic with one meaning and some words had several meanings depending on the context of usage.  It took me five hours to generally translate the paragraph.  This was enough time to learn basic word structure (root, prefix, suffix, etc).  Certainly not enough time to fully understand the context and culture behind the choice of words.  Since some of the meanings of the words could be benign to the risqué I did have to make choices as to her intent.  When I replied to her I did not try to prove my translation, but to respond in English my best understanding of her communication.

Though the years I have treated people through a filter of my own absolute rightness.  This is not healthy for me or the other.  Of course I have come to see through the years that I can hold something to be absolutely true for myself, but others see it otherwise. We have different interpretations of our shared experiences, different understandings of what what we read, different paradigms on which we have built our process of making sense of the world and all that it contains.


I have come to a place that I believe absolute truth exists but that none of us possess all knowledge, all understanding and thus none possess all truth. We possess a part of that truth, our lives bear witness to what we hold to be true, right, and good.  Even as I say that I realize my own continued failure to live up to all that I hold as ideal.  So the ideal may be more truth that what you see practiced in my life.  But perhaps that too bears witness to a larger truth.