A Note About Perspectives
(Hopefully this part will make sense later on)
Among the most important social-cognitive abilities a child develops as they grow through life-stages, is the ability to step out of one’s own perspective to view another perspective. It could be said that one of the primary differences in higher reasoning differentiating humans from animals is that we can put ourselves in the ‘‘mental shoes’’ of others and imagine how others perceive, think, or feel about an object, event, or situation.
Depending on one’s level of cognitive development, the same object or event can be seen or construed in multiple ways, and in the study of child psychology and developmental psychology in particular, it is no different. Researchers have derived a number of different techniques for addressing the question of how and when children come to acquire an understanding of perspectives. Their progress can be mapped along the way.
As an example, in one possible study, a researcher places a simple arrangement of objects in front of a child. Placing a cone-shaped object on a table right in front of the child, and a cube-shaped object at the opposite end of the table, away from the child. The researcher then asks the child to draw a picture of what the objects look like from that point-of-view.
After the child draws a picture of the objects, the researcher then asks the child to draw the objects, “as if” the child were sitting at the other end of the table. This question requires the child to imagine what the objects would look like from the opposite perspective. You can imagine the different types of responses they get.
Studies differ along a wide range of indicators, but many have found that the development in the ability of children to understand perspectives often accelerates between the ages of 3 to 5 years.
This development continues into more advanced emotional and cognitive stages throughout life..
In a sense, for some people the process is never-ending. For others, this type of development slows down or ends early in life.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away,…
When I was a high school student,- I once had the honor of standing alone, just for one beautiful fleeting moment, in front of the tomb of Galileo Galilei, in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy.
I was in a state of awe,- most likely with my jaw hanging open!
This moment was one of many memorable moments in time that I experienced during my visit to Italy.
Attractions like the statue of David, the Sistine Chapel. Rome and the Vatican and St. Peters, all visions etched into my mind forever… The reason I want to share this with you though, is not because of anything so special that really happened while I was standing there that day,- it was more just because of the sense of honor that I felt for this amazing human being.
I don’t know what you may have discussed in your own high school history class, but just fyi, in case you don’t already know it,- Galileo was a brilliant man, a scientist and mathematician, who was convicted and sentenced in 1633 by the Roman Inquisition to live out his life under house arrest.
And for what crime?
Galileo said that the earth was not the center of the universe!
He was a ‘proponent’ of what we call the ‘heliocentric theory’.
Galileo believed in models of our solar system that stated, instead of the sun orbiting around the earth, (which was the prevalent thought of his day),- it is actually the other way around. He said that the earth is in orbit around the sun.
Now if you don’t know it, during the period of history that Galileo lived, the Church was considered to be the most powerful entity of the day.
It had the power to take life.
The power to torture.
The power to imprison.
And yet in spite of all of these risks, Galileo stood up for his beliefs and publicly stated what he knew to be the truth.
An act of incredible bravery.
I remember standing there and asking myself,-
Who amongst us would have the strength and courage to do that?
Where is this going?
There is something more to this study of perspectives, and to transition to it, I would once again like to draw upon a previous life experience…
Unfortunately this one is on the darker side of things…
I learned that there is nothing quite like the feeling of putting your hand on the bricks of an actual oven used to incinerate people during the holocaust.
That was the moment when it became real for me.
Before that, I had only read about it in books. It didn’t seem so real.
This was another of my experiences traveling in Europe with my family as a teen.
In Germany, the historical remains of Hitler’s concentration camps were preserved, and serve as a permanent reminder of what can happen, hidden unseen behind walls. In remote locations outside of our view.
There is some debate over how much ordinary German citizens knew about the atrocities being committed in Hitler’s camps. And at what stages they became aware of it. But in any case, historians believe it is almost certain that in the beginning they knew less than they did later, as the agenda was developed and promoted and advanced.
My point here in bringing this up, is that when things happen in a way that is hidden from us,- what I am asking you to do, is to remember that they are hidden for a reason!
Ask yourself,- why is the perpetrator of this act keeping things hidden?
The answer is they are hidden so that they don’t trigger us!
So they don’t trigger our thoughts, and our emotions, and our awareness. Our actions. Don’t get us thinking too much.
If we don’t look, it makes it easier for us to go along with things. Be at peace with ourselves. Just go with the flow.. Block it out of your mind!
We can pretend certain things are not happening, even though we know, (in the back of our minds), that it really, truly is happening. We just don’t want to think about it. Gradually, we just accept it.
And we accept the advantages and conveniences that we gain from it.
A wall blocking things out makes it easier for us to function in a day-to-day sense,..
Walls help us stay comfortable and cozy, and content..
An Open Letter to the Graduating
Class of 2021
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