Points of Perspective

Through my life, I’ve encountered many people with conflicting views, standpoints and beliefs. Everyone seems to believe so heavily in his or her own personal truths that in some cases people are willing to die for them; Islamic extremists, Catholic soldiers during the crusades, even black panthers defending his or her communities from corrupt officers. Children are like sponges and will pick up these personal truths as their own when exposed to them, and I was no different. The problem was that I was exposed to so many conflicting views that I didn’t know what to believe at first. Eventually, I decided to think and discuss with some of my friends what they thought to be true. And again, I was faced with conflicting views and thoughts that led me to believe that the thing that dictates what people believe to be true, is perception. How you see the world is what molds the idea of truth to each and everyone, therefore nothing is true or false indefinitely. Everything is subjective.

My first example of this is a conflict that I have personally been witnessing since my younger brother was capable of speaking. He and my father clash on many things. My father is 83 and my younger brother is 16. My father has more a more classical standpoint on things and has tried to instill those values in us, contrary to my brother who has a very radical view on things. For years they’ve argued about simple things that most people wouldn’t think twice about. For example, my father believes that to make a sufficient amount of money to live comfortably and become successful one must go to school, get an education and a job and work hard. My brother, however, thinks that school is pointless and that being in the right place at the right time will reward him one day with the riches he’s looking for. Depending on your life experiences you could go either way. Neither one of them is totally incorrect and plenty of people have gotten rich from coincidence and working hard. Luck does not devalue work ethic and vice versa. The problem is neither of them is willing to admit the other might be right because they believe their own personal truth to be absolute. From my point of view, they are both equally correct and incorrect because while it can happen the odds of you being in the right place at the right time and becoming rich are very low. There are other factors as well. We live in New York City, where talent is abundant and so another factor to the “Right Place, Right Time” Theory my brother has is that he has to actually be better than the people around him who could also be there. My father’s idea of working hard to get where one wants to be is flawed in that sometimes no matter how hard you work life may not favor you. You may get laid off as many people have, someone may be favored over you because of connections, and sometimes everyone works so hard in an attempt to get over on one another that no one really stands out.

Even as you grow older and continue to learn and grow your thoughts change. Things that seemed to be true, no longer are. For example, growing up I was taught Christianity and believe it to be true because it was fed to me at a young age. As I grew older I broke away from the religion because I started looking at it from a different point of view. If God loved me unconditionally, more so than my parents even, why would he send me to hell forever for doing something bad? My parents' punishments weren’t eternal and so I couldn’t comprehend the idea of God loving me if he was willing to do that. My truth shifted along with my perception. I continued to grow and learn and shifted further away from Christianity until I became the Buddhist I am today. I personally believe that Siddhartha’s teachings are far more valuable and make more sense than the teachings in the bible. As I grew older I became more aggressive and needed guidance away from my anger, a problem I felt that Christianity didn’t have the proper answer for. I was completely right and came out a better person after learning what I needed to know. And although I do believe these things to be true today there is nothing written in stone. Tomorrow I may change my beliefs again because of a new experience or lesson learned.

Nothing is true or false indefinitely and people's opinions change constantly along with their perception. As long as you continue living and growing your opinions and perception will change as a byproduct. Nothing can stay true forever and while this may discourage people from changing their ideas, I encourage everyone to change their beliefs because it leaves everyone more open minded for the future. It would give everyone a better understanding of one another and a lot of problems could be avoided if everyone wasn’t so scared to change their perception or “step into a whole new reality.”