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Slices of Life: Dissecting our points of view

Jill Pertler

I look up to my husband. Always have. Literally.

He is about 8 inches taller than me, which gives me a straight view up and into his nose. When he has the occasional booger — and who among us doesn't — I am often the first to see it. And point it out.

It's all in the name of helping him.

He doesn't always appreciate me dissecting the contents of his nose.

"You're always looking for boogers," he said.

"No, I'm not," I said. "They're just there."

Seriously, I'm not looking for boogers. I don't seek them out. I'm not a booger junkie.

I just happen to have the perfect vantage point to see and know when he needs to blow his nose. He'd probably be the first to know if I had dandruff.

It's all about your point of view. And each of us has one that is ours and ours alone.

Perspective.

It's like the blue or gold dress phenomenon from a while back. Or the Laura/Yanni recording. Some people saw blue, others gold. Some heard "Laura," others "Yanni." Some saw and heard a little of both. Each of us was sure our choice was correct even though there was clearly a difference of opinion among us.

I'm right; therefore, you must be wrong.

Not quite.

These two scenarios are indicative of something pretty darn significant, and it's not that we all have our own perspectives on the world. We're probably already aware of that. What these instances show is that maybe, just maybe, no one is right.

Or, maybe better said, we all could be right. Or, maybe, sometimes, there is more than one right answer. Mind blown? Mine, too.

The environment today is not always the most empathetic regarding differences of opinion. Contrarily, I might even label it judgmental and sometimes blatantly hostile. People with differing opinions on varying matters often use harsh words against one another — usually via social media because it's easier that way. Bashing someone in person can be downright uncomfortable, not to mention dangerous.

Harsh words — written, spoken or otherwise — do not often bring someone around to your line of thinking. We all know this. Still, I find harsh words abound and I wonder what can be done about it — if anything can be done about it.

When we disagree is it possible to say that maybe there is no one right answer? Fifty shades of the truth, one might say. Maybe I see boogers and my husband sees dandruff and we are both correct and there is no need for either of us to get all gruffy about it because we are only pointing out the obvious from our own point of view.

But I'm belittling matters. The world is a complicated place. Our issues are intertwined, interconnected and complex. We all come to them with our own set of life circumstances, experiences and yes, perspectives.

Religion, politics, social issues and the difference between right and wrong have no easy or pat answers. We can't boil them down to being simply a result of differing perspectives. We certainly can't compare them to boogers and dandruff. It isn't as simple as that.

Then again, maybe it is.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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