When your understanding and sensibilities are based only on your perceptions, then you have the recipe for being offensive and even dangerous to others when you are careless in your responses to their commentary and input. That recipe is a dangerous one to keep in the cookbook of your life because its ingredients are pungent with selfishness and self-centeredness, something we are all guilty of at times.

The tree of your understanding is not, and never will be, the only tree in the forest. But if looked at correctly from a vantage point that allows you to see yours as one of many trees which make up the forest, then that perspective will help you see and consider input from others as worthwhile as your own. Sometimes when hearing or reading words that we think devalue our own mindset and opinion, we sometimes mistakenly interpret it as an affront to ours or someone else’s character — and at times this may be true.

If we are looking closely at a single tree with our nose pressed up against its trunk and we really like what we are experiencing and seeing, and then suddenly we are asked to look at or consider someone else’s opinion or comments, remember that the tree of their understanding is growing from the same earth as yours. Even though the peoples of the world are racially, culturally, environmentally and geographically different, when we look at the whole of mankind from a more distant and all-inclusive perspective, our similarities can outshine our differences.

When all is said and done to bring about change, the greater good comes about because of and from those whose hearts and minds see respect for others as a personal law for themselves, which shouldn’t need to be legislated or violently protested to bring to fruition.

Larry Nielsen