In Ryan Holiday’s excellent book “The Obstacle Is the Way“, Holiday offers a ton of excellent wisdom. One snippet that stood out to me was this:
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”
This is true in all areas of life, but lately it seems to be manifesting itself in strong and divisive ways in politics. Two examples come to mind:
Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan: Was it a bold move to show our strength, or was it simply a way to agitate China?
DeSantis sending immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard: Was it a way to show the country what southern states need to deal with, or was it an example of using humans as pawns in a cruel way?
Politics are an easy example, but it extends to all facets of life. For almost any situation, there is no clear “good” or “bad” — it’s how it’s interpreted by those that view it.
I’m typing this in a coffee shop right now. If the guy across the room were to stand up, walk over, and punch me in the face, is that good or bad? We have laws that say it’s a bad thing, and I think most everyone would agree with it. However, I’m sure there are people that would think I deserve it for some reason or another (“He supports the Atlanta Braves”, “He drives a gas car”, “His texts come through in green instead of blue”). They’d be pretty weak reasons, but there is a small percentage of people that would likely believe strongly enough in one of those to justify it.
It’s important to remember this as we watch events unfold. Our upbringing, our knowledge, our faith, our politics, and many other things will affect how we view things. If someone disagrees with your response to something, it’s possible that they’re wrong, but more likely that they simply have different experiences that have shaped their view. Taking the time to learn about those could be good for both parties.