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Perspective – what does it mean? May 11, 2010

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.
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If two people look at a field of sunflowers, they may see two very different things. One person may see the beauty of nature, the miracle of colorful flowers sprouting from the earth. Another person may see the field only as a crop that can produce sunflower oil and sunflower seeds. 

That is perspective – how each of us view things through our own eyes and mind, through our own ability to understand it.

The dictionary describes the word, “perspective” as meaning as the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed or the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. 

I had an interesting experience with my perspective recently at one of my Talk Labs.

I meet with some adults and university students each Saturday at the Oblast Library. We call the meeting a Talk Lab because everyone speaks English well and wants to practice and talk with other English speakers. One day, our conversation was about World War II and the German occupation of Ukraine.

Most of the books I read about  World War II talked about how badly people were treated by the Germans, how so many people were killed or beaten and robbed by soldiers. From my perspective, the German soldiers were people to be feared. Several of the people at my Talk Lab had a different perspective.

One person told the story of how he met German soldiers close to the end of the War. He was a little boy, maybe five or six years old and his brothers were just a little older. The soldiers came to his house in the village to rest and eat. His parents let them in and gave them water to drink.

After the soldiers drank, they opened their packs, took out bread and butter and spread the butter on the bread. Then they handed the bread to the boys who were sitting in the corner watching them with fear. The boys were very hungary because there was so little food to eat during the war. They were very grateful.

That is not at all how I would have expected German soldiers to treat Ukrainians. From my perspective, I would have expected them to be mean. The perspective of the man at my Talk Lab was that the German soldiers were just men doing their jobs, following orders and extending some kindness when they could.

It is funny how two people can think about history, remember an event, talk about an experience very differently – all because we see things through our own perspectives. I guess that is what makes each of us so unique!

Below is a photo of my Talk Lab.

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