"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Perspective Fun & Challenges

A few weeks back I was talking to Samer and somehow we got on the topic of kindness working better than force. Perhaps we were discussing how wives would respond more favorably to husbands who treated them well rather than ones who would order them around as if they were inferior beings. Anyway, I thought of the fable I heard years ago and related the story of The North Wind and the Sun. Briefly it goes something like this. From Wikipedia...

The North Wind and the Sun is a fable attributed to Aesop. The story concerns a competition between the North wind and the Sun to decide who was the stronger of the two. The challenge was set to make a passing traveler remove his cloak. However hard the North Wind blew at the traveler, the traveler only wrapped his cloak tighter, but when it was the Sun's turn, and the Sun shone, the traveler was overcome with heat and had to take his cloak off. The moral was stated at the end of the fable as:

Persuasion is better than force. The complete moral of this is "Kindness, gentleness, and persuasion win where force fails. "

Instead of getting the "Aha! Great illustration" response I thought I'd get, Samer questioned: "You think the sun is less harsh than the wind?" then he went on to explain how hot and dry Damascus summers were and how a cooling wind was welcome.

Oh yeah...I totally get that, but it's not the point of my story! Really I can relate. Southern summers aren't exactly cool and I know how soothing a breeze can be in July. But I digress.

It's funny how perspectives color things. Aesop's fable aside, some people actually view the cold north wind as more welcome than the summer sun. Another reminder came when we were discussing this passage in I Timothy 3:2,

"Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife ..."

I'd always heard this taught to mean something in regard to divorce limiting people from certain church positions, but when Samer read it he stated, "Oh, I see this is against polygamy in church leadership." As an American who grew up with little if any thoughts of polygyny this never crossed my mind! But for a young man with a Muslim background and culture where polygyny isn't unheard of, he immediately interpreted this verse differently than I!

Our perspectives affect innocent things such as whether we welcome the rain or sun, wind or snow up to more difficult and potentially life-changing issues such as Hezbollah and Hamas being considered terrorist groups in need of stopping or merely freedom fighters defending the land stolen from them. A woman may find polygyny disagreeable and demoralizing to women whereas a man may find it a wonderful, God-given right and opportunity to have lots of varied sex! Perspective colors whether one reads the Gospels and sees Jesus as God or merely a good moral guide with idealistic teachings.

Our viewpoints, influenced much by our upbringing within our families, communities and peer groups, often define whether or not we view religion as a crutch needed only by weak people, a guide to instruct us through this life and the next or something altogether different. It influences what we believe about Muhammed, Joseph Smith, Buddha, the Pope and the angel Gabriel! Whether or not we see the American Civil War as the "War of Northern Aggression" or a fight to free slaves. Whether we view pork or beef, wine or milk favorably or not. Whether dogs are oh-so-cute-and-much-loved pets or whether they are to be avoided due to dirty saliva. I think you get the point.

Are there examples of how you and a friend or acquaintance have seen the same thing in very different ways? Was it something you could laugh off as inconsequential or did it cause a bit of contention as you decided to discuss why you viewed this subject differently? Did hearing their points of view change your way of viewing something? I'd love to hear your perspective stories!

So share! :)


Suroor said...

Very interesting!

I think we all look at things differently all the time, don't we? I have always read the Bible very differently from you :)

Nocturnal Queen said...

Like Samer, I always viewed that scripture to be referring to polygamy. :-)

Amber said...


I *like* your example of the North Wind and the Sun. The North Wind tries to *force* the change, while the Sun simply convinces you that it's your idea. ;)

As to the 1 Timothy verse: oddly enough, apparently, I also thought that it was dealing with polygamy, historically, as well as divorce. As an aside, deacons in the Catholic church still cannot be divorced (they lose the deaconate if they do), and if their wife dies, they must remain widowers. Many of them choose to pursue the priesthood after the death of their wife....

Heh. I grew up around people who do still consider the Civil War the 'War of Northern Aggression', and to this day, if I call you a 'Yankee', it's not a good thing. *grins*

Hey, you and I disagree on things all the time. :) I don't think it causes friction, because we're both mature enough to be polite about it. Southern manners, don't you know, sugah. But I do have friends that there are certain subjects we, by mutual agreement, don't discuss. Because one or the other of us has been 'unreasonable' in the past, and we've decided that our friendship is more important than winning that argument.

Sarah said...

I love that fable. I'm sure I have told that one to Cherif before and I'm not sure he got it... maybe it's for the same reason as Samer! Interesting. Definitely must be a tale of northern-European origin!!

It's really cool that you discuss all these things with your Syrian friend. Sounds like a really deep friendship.

Cherif and me have different perspectives on loads of things, it's been really interesting and life-enriching, I would definitely consider a multi-culture relationship again.

Susanne said...

Suroor, I thought of you as I wrote what I did about Jesus. ;) Also you inspired parts of this post by some of our e-mail conversations. I'm glad you chimed in on the topic. :)

Susanne said...

Niki, really? Why did I not think of/know that? I suppose the fact that a man would possibly WANT more than one wife in this day and age never crossed my mind. Hehehehe. Men with numerous wives is bizarre to me. I know it's in the Old Testament, but so is a talking donkey, ya know?

Thanks for your comment! :)

Susanne said...


"The North Wind tries to *force* the change, while the Sun simply convinces you that it's your idea. ;)"

Yes, brilliant strategy! :-))))

Thanks for explaining what the Timothy passage meant to you and also about the Catholic church's position on divorce and widowers. That's very interesting! I don't know how I missed out on the polygamy connection. Ignorance, I suppose. :)

"and to this day, if I call you a 'Yankee', it's not a good thing. *grins* "

Ha! Oh girl, I hear ya! Samer once had the audacity to refer to us as Yankees and I was like, "I am NOT a Yankee!" (Them's fightin' words!) He insisted to the rest of the world ALL Americans were and I told him how WRONG that was to me! I do have southern pride! (insert rebel yell here and block yer ears!) Hehehe.

LOL @ "sugah." I remember when Michael was about 2 and someone at the grocery store referred to him this way. He laughed and said, "She call me 'sugah'." :-D

Yes, we disagree all the time...true. That reminds me, **I** was right about the prince and fox example! :-P

Thanks for your lovely comment! You're a peach. :)

Susanne said...

Sarah, I'm giggling that Cherif also didn't get the fable! Goodness! :) I'm glad you can relate to fables falling flat...hehehe.

Yes, I can imagine how enriching and interesting a multi-cultural marriage is. I've really enjoyed my multi-cultural friendships so much!

I never looked online for friends from other cultures, but since Samer found me over 2 years ago, I've loved the opportunity to learn from those different than I. And, yes, our friendship is fantastic. We have some great conversations - political things, religious things, cultural things, debates, heated discussions, why women like Italian men and men prefer blondes, silly things, serious things. It's been great! I'm trying also to teach him enough about women that he'll understand his wife better when he finally marries. Ha! Not that women are all the same or uncomplicated, right? ;-)

Thanks for your comment. I greatly enjoyed them all!

Sarira said...

Hey Susanne,

I just found your blog :D This is a GREAT post :) Maybe because I am a product of two cultures (LOL), I call myself an Americanized Egyptian (I was born in the States), I've really seen how each person's culture and upbringing really affects each person's perspective. I've got a ton of stories...things especially related to 'politeness' in each culture.

For example, I was invited to an Indian wedding once. Demonstrating politeness (at least in American culture), I showed up promptly on time. 7:00 by the dot, practically.

Big mistake. That was considered 'rude'. I was the first person there, lol, and I think the bride's sister was completely lost with what to do with me. She told me, "When we say 7, we mean 8 or 9".


Susanne said...

Sarira, welcome! And thanks so much for sharing your funny story! Ha, ha! I bet you DO have plenty of cultural stories to tell. If you do a post on it sometime, I'd love reading it! So glad to "meet" you and thanks much for leaving a comment! :)

Joni said...

Susie, this was a great post. I say "here here!" (or is it 'hear hear'?) Anyway, I sure wish more people would realize just how many things in life are a matter of perspective.

BTW, I was not familiar with that fable.

Susanne said...

JONI!!!!!!!!!! I've missed your comments! I'm glad you left one today! What?! You never heard this fable? Are you Aesop deprived? ;)

Yes, it's amazing how many things are a matter of perspective. Makes me realize I shouldn't take things quite so seriously and realize "hey, someone else might just see this very differently than I do."

Thanks for dropping by! I've miss ya.