Abstraction: It’s all a matter of perspective

posted in: Opinion | 0

Maturity is a complex, contestable status that isn’t ever easily defined. Most people in our contemporary, American culture would agree, though, that being able to be successful, both socially and academically in college requires some sort of maturity that is associated with the experience.

Inarguably, one of the key components of maturity is the realization that the world is composed of more than just your wants and your needs; that there is some sort of interconnectivity between people and that in a society we really are dependent on each other for a multitude of things. The close-minded, childish perspective is eventually replaced with an open-minded perspective that takes into consideration the desires of others, as well as how a single decision will impact the group, rather than oneself.

Perspective is unique. People may share similar outlooks, but they can never be completely identical. Larger even is the gap between the perspectives of those who are mature and those who are immature. This new sense of grouping transcends even the separation that I normally discuss between students from Hawaii and those from the mainland. This similarity can provide the basis for many cross-cultural relationships that form the accepting, welcoming feeling for all students here at Pacific.

Perhaps we should look at all things from an abstract perspective, the true perspective of maturity. Abstract painters represent the world not as flat and two-dimensional, but choose to show all sides of a subject: the underside of a woman’s belly, both sides of a robin’s wing. There is a side to every story that can’t be seen at first glance, but must be delved for, and it takes some effort. And maybe it is being able to see that the sun reflects beautifully off the surface of the ocean, but pierces and scatters just as spectacularly beneath it.

In light of the many disputes that have erupted on campus in recent weeks, as well as in response to some personal arguments, perhaps the best way to deal with any such situation is to take a step back and attempt to see things from an abstract perspective. Rarely in any argument is one side “wrong,” and the other side “right,” but rather simply different in opinions and backgrounds.

In the past few weeks, I have seen quite a few tempers flare viciously, and these situations only create an inability to progress. When people refuse to assess a situation calmly, all that results is frustration for both parts. Let’s take things into perspective instead, and be mature adults; let’s try to see the abstract painting of the situation, both the clearly apparent front as well as the not as easily viewed behind.

When attempting to come to an agreement, it doesn’t matter where we’re from, or which culture we base our opinions on. What matters is that we are able to understand the basis of our opinions and that we are able to compare those with others, and be willing to make all of the parts fit together in the bigger picture.

Friedrich Nietzche boldly claimed, “you have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” We are all similar in the sense that we are all different. With this understanding, it shouldn’t be hard to understand the undeniable need to try to see each other as the three-dimensional beings we are, and how we all fit together in the abstract painting of life.


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