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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Aimee's Soapbox

Aimee's November Soapbox
November 2007: Perspective
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Greetings Groovy Soapbox Readers!
When I am in charge of the world, all citizens will have a required one-year period of "Customer Service" service to the nation. It could be in retail, restaurants, whatever. Every person just has to spend one year working in some kind of service industry that includes working with the public
Why such a requirement? Well, in my little utopian society, every person will have to learn the lesson about walking a mile in the other guy's shoes, and that sometimes the other guy is wearing really tight stilettos with four-inch heels and pointy toes.

Now, I am not saying that each person will have to start wearing their own stilettos, or even like them. But I am saying that everyone will have to learn Perspective.

What's so big about perspective? Well, if perspective is reality, as they say, then perspective is pretty much everything. I mean, if your perspective is that life is crap and everything sucks, then you will only see the glass half empty, you will only pay attention to the things that reinforce your perspective, and you will go home and kick the dog, yell at the kids, and push away your spouse. And that becomes your reality. (You just better hope your dog, kids, and spouse are "half full" folks so that they have some compassion for you.)

Anyway, here are my three reasons why Perspective is the Key to it All:
1. Perspective Teaches Personal Responsibility. It is my opinion that too many people play the victim (because it is easier) and are under-responsible for their lives. For example, it is much easier to blame supersized fast food for our obesity problem than it is to take responsibility for the fact that we are a sedentary nation that would rather play video games and download internet porn than go out for a walk.
When I was in college, one of my religion professors had arranged for our class to visit the home of an Amish family. We toured the farm and had dinner with them. If you've ever eaten German or Pennsylvania Dutch food, you know that "low calorie" and "light and airy" are not in the cookbook. Think meat and potatoes. But have you ever seen an obese Amish person? No. So don't just blame the carbs or the fats.
I think if we are willing to look at the big picture, we can become more personally responsible for our actions, and therefore more empowered. I know that there will always be some people who take the easy way out by being the victim, but they truly are giving up their personal power to others when they do that. And that's just silly.

2. Perspective Teaches you to Think Outside of Yourself. So in my aforementioned utopia with the mandatory service, every person will have to learn how to wait on others, help others, and provide service to others. Now, if you have already worked in these industries, you know that "others" can sometimes be a bit prickly. If you have not already worked in these industries, you should know that sometimes you can be a bit prickly.
I always cringe when I see someone in a restaurant giving the wait staff a hard time. Or when I see someone treating a sales clerk in a patronizing or condescending manner. (And yes, I know this goes both ways.)
Maybe that waiter just broke up with his girlfriend. Or maybe the sales clerk just learned his dad has cancer. Or maybe, they have just worked a double shift and they still have to go home to a sick kid. If that were you, wouldn't you want someone to see things from your perspective?

3. Perspective Teaches Compassion and Humility. The other day, I was watching a decorating show on one of the cable channels. It highlighted the Top 25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes. (I was anxious to learn if my throw pillows were trendy or tacky.)
Anyway, about 15 minutes into the show, my husband says, "Gee, I bet this show's a big hit in Darfur."
OK, so that made me laugh, but kind of in a rueful sort of way. I mean, here I sit, on my comfy couch and in a position to even HAVE throw pillows to judge, and on the other side of the world, someone else is wondering how long he has till he starves to death and maybe even wishing it would hurry up. Yep, that gave me a sense of humility real fast.
I guess what I am saying here is that we could all use a little reality check now and then, or at least a reminder to think about the big picture and the fact that our own version of things is not the only version. It's a tough and humbling path to take.So, maybe it's good I am not in charge of the world, enforcing my mandatory service on all the unsuspecting citizens. Or maybe it's not. Depends on your perspective.
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