A perspective is a process

“Every perspective is true but partial.”

I can see the truth of this claim more clearly if I use different wording:

Every perspective is actually a process. That process is truly happening, whether we like it or not. If we are unwilling to tolerate another person’s perspective, it means we are arguing with reality. It doesn’t mean the other person isn’t arguing with reality too; it just means we’ve joined them in doing so.

Is there anything wrong with arguing with reality? Rather than frame it as a moral question, we can treat it the same way as a perspective: it’s a process and it’s happening. You are free to argue with reality. You are free to not tolerate other perspectives. If I told you that you were wrong at some fundamental level to argue with reality, then I would be arguing with reality. It’s something we already do.

But not only are we free to argue with reality, we’re also free not to argue with reality. This may have some benefits, but we won’t find out what they are unless we’re willing to try it.

For example, if I am for increased gun control measures and I hear someone who is absolutely opposed to any form of gun control, what is my response? Can I tolerate their perspective? And if so, can I become interested in their perspective, not only to shoot it down (no pun intended), but also in order to see the truth of their perspective?

Remember: a perspective is a process that is actually happening, no less in you than in them. You’re familiar with your process but unfamiliar with theirs. You are free to choose not to become interested in their process, thereby letting the interaction of these processes continue in the same pattern they are already accustomed to (e.g. increased entrenchment, animosity, polarization, etc.).

But you are also free to explore the unfamiliar process (the truth of the other’s perspective) and see where that might lead. Likely you won’t lose your own perspective; that process is pretty well reinforced if you’re already to the point of having trouble tolerating other processes.

Still, it is risky. There’s no guarantee that you’ll end up on the other side with the same perspective. You might even change your mind in some small or large way. You might have to adjust your process or refine your perspective. Given this risk, the only way you’ll truly be able to explore another perspective is to be willing to change your mind. Otherwise, it will not be an authentic exploration. You’ll remain embedded in your own process while observing the other process from the outside. The only way to truly explore it is to step into the other process. And the only way to do that is to accept the associated risk: the possibility that you might change your mind.

So… if you’re interested in truth—in reality, and especially if you’re interested in moving beyond entrenched cultural patterns, or discovering a new way to work together with all these strange people who are inhabiting the same planet as you, then you have to take one simple step (and keep taking it):

Be willing to change your mind.