Last night my wife and I had a rare disagreement. She said the dress was blue and dark gray. I correctly identified the dress color as gold and white. When we began the debate I thought she was kidding. How, I wondered, could she be so wrong? Deep on the inside, me and myself swapped high fives. At last, I would be right and she in error.
But the internet revealed a similiar confliction of views. The differing views sparked hot debate. Brother against brother. Even Republicans turned on each other. And millions of other houses became divided over the color of a dress.
As I read more about the debate my smugness turned stale. How could there be two strong different opinions about the color of a gold and white dress?
I made a discovery. While holding my IPhone, and staring at the picture, I slowly changed the angle of the screen. Unbelievable. The dress turned to blue and dark gray before my eyes. I did it again. And again. Then I looked at the dress in the normal position. Now, it was blue and dark gray. Huh?
My certainty vanished. Maybe it all depended on your angle or perspective. It made me wonder if there were certainties in my life which, if I looked at them from a different angle, would change. Would I become less certain if I looked at these things from a different angle:
- The dress is gold and white.
- President Obama policies are always wrong.
- Poor people are ignorant.
- Homeless people brought it on themselves.
- Republicans are always conservative.
- Fox News is fair and balanced.
Really? Are you certain? Is it possible if you looked at these issues from a different angle your certainty would slip?
One of the great joys in getting older is finding it easier to think through issues from different perspectives. In younger years I needed issues framed in black and white. My uncertain life craved certainty. I needed a foundation of “rightness” upon which to stand. That need is fading. I am experiencing more uncertainty in many areas of life. And I like it.
Here’s why. As I look at issues from a different perspective, certainty fades and I am:
- Less judgmental. Maybe I’m not the only person on the planet who has it all together.
- More loving. You are not my enemy because you see the dress as blue and dark gray. I can love you even if you are wrong.
- Open to answers from unexpected places. Maybe I can learn important lessons from people who watch CNN and voted for President Obama.
- Saved from the need to be right. It is possible I’m wrong and I need to listen to you.
Who cares if the dress is blue or gold? Not me. But it reminds me of an important lesson: be open to examining your certainties from other angles. What would happen if you learned to value the perspective of the disagreeable people in your life?
Are you at least willing to give it a try?