The political divide in my country is greater than I’ve ever seen, the result of long-standing tensions that found expression in the election of Trump to the presidency. There are many dimensions of this division but in my estimation the key issue is perspective on life itself. Some conservatives are rigidly sure that there is only one way to view the world, the “right way,” and it “just happens” to be their way. On the other hand, progressives are more open-minded, seeing the world as fluid and less rigidly defined. This viewpoint also is often held very rigidly in spite of announced beliefs of open-mindedness, failing to appreciate the value of a conservative approach to life. The conservative resistance to change and the progressive insistence on change are contrasting approaches to life, both of which are necessary for any group, i.e. “tribe”, to function. When the tension between these two social impulses becomes to great violence can erupt if wise and astute leadership is not available in the tribe.
Perspective is merely a view of the world, best illustrated with the old image of, “Do you see the glass half empty or half full?” This question is a simple illustration that what is going on in the depths of one’s heart can influence how he interprets even a simple thing like the fullness or a glass of water not to mention more weightier issues such as immigration or abortion. The problem arises only when those who are “half fullers” become adamant in their position while “half-emptiers” are equally adamantine. In gridlock such as this, perspective has become a tyrant and it is tyranny of this sort that led to the Civil War in 1861.
A philosopher once noted, “You cannot have a perspective on your perspective without somehow escaping it.” Implicit in this wisdom is the understanding that regardless of how certain one might be about his view of the world, it is possible to stand back a bit and mull over the possibility that someone might see things differently. This involves respect for other people, for “the Other,” and if this respect is lacking conflict will emerge. Sometimes the solution that arises to alleviate this conflict is tyranny as one side of the issue is able to manage political and social power to the point that the alternative viewpoint is squashed. For this reason an autocratic regime systematically attempts to repress dissent.
A caveat is here in order. I have here presented a perspective on a complicated matter, a perspective on perspective itself. I bring the same “skewed” view of the world to everything I post here and to everything I think and say in my day-to-day life. There are many good and wise people who do not have this view of the world. The problem arises only when one “skewed” view of the world usurps power and attempts to squash other “skewed” views of the world. If this power grab is successful, the result will be the aforementioned autocratic state.