ONE-SIDED VIEW

We humans have eyes only on one side of our bodies. So, in effect we have unidirectional vision – in the sense that we can clearly view only what lies in front of us, though we can roll our eye balls a little bit. If we are to look at things to our left, right or behind us, we would have to either turn our heads or our whole bodies in that direction so as to get a complete view and that makes sense, rather than being content with having only a partial view.

When posted in a semi-rural area for work, I needed to commute daily for more than two hours from the city in overcrowded local buses. As the bus conductors along the route got familiar to my daily travels, they were kind enough to reserve a seat for me near the window. This was much to my relief in the hot and humid conditions! As I sat by the window basking in the intermittent flow of cool breeze, the fleeting rural scenes amused me a lot. I especially enjoyed the greenery of the vast fields, the sight of farmers sowing seeds, fields filled with water after a heavy downpour, the clear blue skies with wisps of white clouds and the thatched houses inhabited by people untouched by modernization. Being out and out city bred, these were quite interesting sights for me. The seats reserved for me in each of the buses were constants – to the right side of the bus while going and to the left while returning.

There came a day when the conductor of a particular bus had taken the day off and had been replaced by a new face who didn’t know about me being a daily commuter. I did get a seat beside the window, but not to the regular side as other days. And, what a surprise I was in for! The sights that this side of the bus offered me were quite different – muddy canals, pits of stagnant water, unused rusting heavy machinery, a few shops here and there, women carrying stained pots to fetch water and few people scurrying across amidst wars of words. These views made me realize how skewed my vision was! I got a complete picture of the rural routes along that way only after putting together the left and the right sided views.

Doesn’t it happen so in most of our thought processes as well? How many times do we become judgemental and opinionated only with partial information about people or things! Rumours, gossips and stereotypes and preconceived notions add spices to skewed mental frameworks. Without bothering much to observe, know and gather a considerable amount of understanding about something or someone, we are quick to form opinions or hang on to previously formed opinions. Many times, we base our thought processes on just one or two core attributes and arrive at strong conclusions – most of which (we know) have been refuted later on several occasions.

To give examples:

X belongs to ABC country. People there are very hard working. So, X must be a hardworking person.

Y belongs to PQR race. People of that race have loose morals. So, Y surely is a person with loose morals! Better not to associate with Y.

Z belongs to a rich family. She must be a spoilt brat!

S comes from a broken family of alcoholic parents. S surely is heading in that way too!

The Sharmas are rich. Their bungalow, their fleet of vehicles, their lifestyles speaks for it. They must be a very happy family.

How many overseas trips Sue makes in a year! She sure is quite affluent.

In the above and many more ways we tend to base our opinions on the visible externals. However, we forget that human beings are not like plane geometric figures drawn on sheets with the visible surfaces being all to that can ever be. Rather, we are like multi-dimensional multi-faced figures which need to be seen and observed from all sides and angles in order to arrive at certain conclusions. Since this is not always possible at the first go, we need to reserve our opinions.

Wisdom from the Bible guards us from having skewed opinions:

  1. Do not judge – “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) Judge not! The Bible spells it out clearly. Though the mind is prone to wandering into wild exploits of its own, its reins need to be arrested. One-sided views make us prone to be judgmental. Partial information skews the thought process and influences the attitude one develops towards the person/thing/event in question. More often than not, people who have been at the receiving end of judgmental remarks are the ones who mete the same treatment to others. Critical people criticize others and get criticized in return. However, once we train ourselves to get a holistic picture of people or things, we learn to be realistic and our opinions then, stand ground. Hence avoiding the formulation of hasty inferences is prudent!
  2. Avoid the company of gossipmongers – Gossipers leave no stone unturned in spreading any and every information that reaches them – most of which are unverified. If you have ever seen a group of people sitting and gossiping, you must have noticed how each topic’s anatomy is subjected to the scalpel before shifting to another spicy topic and on and on it goes. Being in the presence of gossipmongers influences the way the mind formulates opinions. “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” (Proverbs 18:8) Gossipmongers tend to portray themselves as deep reservoirs of classified information. However, attending to such gossip prevents unbiased and holistic perceptions from being formulated in the richness of the human mind. Forming opinions on the basis of such gossips have led many to lament later.
  3. Quick to hear, slow to speak “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19) Wagging tongues voice out unwise words. Think of the damages caused to people’s emotions and reputations because of certain injudicious comments and mindless remarks. Take bullying for example, in the form of giving nicknames to people like fatso, lean twig, round tomato, stout stockpile, giraffe neck, toad voice, crackpot, loose antenna, loser and many such others that you can think of. You never know why the person has put on weight. You don’t know why the voice of a person has gone hoarse. You don’t know why the lady walks with a limp. And yet, you are quick to enjoy a joke at someone’s expense! Unwise half-baked words sow seeds of dissension and suspicion, break relationships, drive people to commit suicide, reduce the self-esteem of many and cause some to loose their mental equilibrium. The key to avoid creating such a mess is to hear and observe as much as possible, all the while refraining from formulating opinions and speaking them out.
  4. Have your mind tuned to the ways of God “. . . For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) No matter how much we train our minds to have unbiased holistic views, at times circumstances seem so compelling and deceptive that we end up harbouring lopsided perspectives. The best way to ensure that we do not fall prey to the lures of skewed visions is to look at the things the way God would. In order to be able to do that, we need to know the mind of God which is best revealed in the Scriptures.

With rapid digitization and the fourth estate being highly active all the world over, there is information explosion everywhere. Just type in a keyword in your browser and you will gain access to volumes of information that are readily available. That is when one needs to guard oneself against being swept away by anything and everything that is showcased by media. Many skewed media reports have brought about mindless unrest at various times.

So yes, by all means perceive all that your sense organs capture. However, do not be hasty in drawing inferences, formulating opinions and acting on the basis of those inferences and opinions. Strive to get a complete picture and do not succumb to one-sided views.

 

 

My Prayer for us: Lord, keep us from succumbing to skewed perceptions. Guard, guide and shape our thoughts and notions in ways that honour You. Amen.  

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “ONE-SIDED VIEW

  1. How excellent are the teachings from the Bible! And how beautifully you have out together, Rajnandini. Lot of information and lots to learn from this article. A warning – that we all need to take for ourselves on how we are using information, how we are perceiving it, in the first place.
    Thanks for writing this. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

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