The teacher put a number on the table in front of Jon. “What do you see?” Jon answered, “I see a number on a piece of paper.”The teacher asked, “What number do you see? Jon replied, “From my perspective, I see the number six.” The teacher smiled and asked, “From your perspective? Perspective is an interesting word. Work with me here, Jon. Are you sure it is a six? I was hoping you would choose a number that was three times three. ” Jon smiled and said, “I prefer three plus three.” The teacher lifted the paper with the number so it was slanted back toward him. He asked, “Marvin, What number so you see?”Marvin, sitting off to one side, behind the teacher said, “I see the number nine.” The teacher continued with the lesson: “We have just seen a demonstration of perspective. Perspective is the unique angle from which we all observe and interpret life. Your perspective is affected by your angle of view, focus and color of the lenses through which you view. The lenses are colored by experiences, interests, attitudes and beliefs. There is an expression, ‘Seek to understand before attempting to be understood.’ Steven Covey liked the phrase so well; he included it as number five in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. ” If we only attempt to be understood, we communicate with an agenda and only listen as a salesperson attempting to make a sale or close a deal. Others perceive us as stating, "Be reasonable. See it my way."We run the risk of being misunderstood and marginalized. There is a proverb that says, “Wisdom makes knowledge acceptable.” (Proverbs 15:2, NAS) Loosely translated, that Proverb means, “If I gain knowledge, I can demonstrate how smart I am. If I gain understanding (wisdom), I can demonstrate how smart you are.”
Jesus was the Master of teaching complex spiritual concepts by making them simple. He even rebuked the religious leaders of His day for attempting to make simple issues complex in order to make the people dependent upon them. His written word also says to, “Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18, ESV) An example of somebody who embodies the antithesis of wisdom making knowledge acceptable is Ann Coulter. She is an extremely intelligent person. She even claims to be Christian (or maybe, “Conservative” and religious). She has a law degree, is an international speaker and a best-selling author. When Ann talks or writes, she makes intelligent arguments, strings logical points together and sometimes sounds reasonable. She often, however, tops- off a valid point with a caustic, sarcastic and snarky personal attack upon a person or members of a group. She has characterized men of the political persuasion that is opposite of hers as “drama queens” making “womanly gasps.” Recent comments Tweeted by Ann have even revealed some xenophobia and anti-Semitism, as reported by Joseph Farah in WND publications. (1)(2) The Tweets may also indicate a person who is desperately attempting to remain in the public and be understood. In Treason, Ann writes of our “enemies in the War on Terror:” “They hate us? We hate them. Americans don’t want to make Islamic fanatics love us. We want to make them die. There’s nothing like horrendous physical pain to quell angry fanatics. So sorry they’re angry-wait until they see American anger. Japanese kamikaze pilots hated us once, too. A couple of well-aimed nuclear weapons got their attention. Now they are gentle little lambs.” (Treason, pg. 230) To seek understanding rather than to simply be understood, one must examine and re-evaluate personal values and beliefs. Socrates stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The Socratic Method is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based upon asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and illuminate ideas. Ann Coulter, when confronted by a question from a member of a college audience has stated, “Would two husky young men on either side of that young man, please take care of business?” Actions demonstrating that “might makes right” do not coincide well with critical thinking, political and philosophical discourse and the examined life. An examined life also requires the maintenance of a high level of curiosity. When curiosity diminishes, so does imagination. The death of imagination leaves the individual with no receptors to receive inspiration. Knowledge asks questions like, “How” and “Why.” Wisdom asks questions like, “What if” and “Why not?” In summary, seek to understand rather than being understood. Grow in knowledge of your faith, yourself, your topics and the perspectives of others. Ask sincere questions and make observations. Examine your own motives, values and beliefs. Revise as necessary. Cultivate a healthy curiosity and allow your imagination to be inspired.
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About The Author:Jerry is a retired school teacher. He has published Woodcutter's Revival and Fine Line. He just completed his Competent Communicator level with ToastMasters International. This article is a revision of his tenth speech.