Considering Multiple Points of View is Not a Bad Thing.
While fixing my playlist yesterday, I encountered a song from Billy Joel. Known mostly by my generation for his song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, this time I am referring to “I Go to Extremes”. Heck, they’re from the same album, anyway.
I Go To Extremes
Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens And if I stand of I fall It’s all or nothing at all Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes
cover to Storm Front (1989)
Listening to the tune again, I realize that these lines inadvertently talk about one prevailing attitude in our world today – the tendency to adapt extreme points of view.
Think about it: for many people, there are no in-betweens. One is either on “this” side, or “that” side”. Worse, anyone on the “other side” is automatically labeled as “the enemy”.
Recently, in fact, I had critiqued the name calling of one political “side” by someone on the “other side”. I said that the first step towards unity was to acknowledge that, for most of the citizenry, the ultimate goal is the good of the country. The differences lie in the means through which each citizen believes is necessary and/or justifiable in order to achieve the goal of national progress.
Unfortunately, my idea was met with downright disgust. I was even indirectly told that I was being an idiot. The thought of even considering the other point of view was so foreign to my friend.
There was a time in my younger years that I thought the same way, really. I’m not going to claim that I am that much better, but I would be lying if I said that I went through a paradigm shift in my thinking.
Much like everyone, I was raised to think that things are black and white. There is “good” and there is “evil”. Everything was presented to us in these terms. Fairy tales and fables read to us as toddlers featured evil witches and warlocks being defeated by heroic knights. Characters were always definable as “good” or “evil”.
This thinking was reinforced by sports. If an athlete or team was the “good guy”, then opposing teams are the “bad guys”. I don’t even have to elaborate on religion.
The thing is, real life isn’t black and white. It’s different shades of grays.
This is what needs to be remembered. Even if some acts are in their nature evil, it is difficult to totally judge a person’s motivations. (Unless, of course, they are blatantly obvious).
There is no harm in at least TRYING to find out someone else’s reasons for their opinions. One need not agree, just understand.