Clear View

20 11 2021

Every day is an opportunity to view things differently. Every day we can choose another lens through which to view the world and all that lives within. I wonder why it is that we cling so fiercely to our narrow perspectives?

My feeling is that it feels safe to travel along the same familiar route. It feels comforting to always know what you think, to have a readymade opinion on everything. How refreshing it could be to live without having to remember to have an opinion on anything at all! To simply consider every situation as it occurs with fresh, clear eyes. This is how birds live.

Yesterday I tested a robin’s nerve by placing a small cube of cheese on the wooden picnic table where the bird could see it. The robin assessed the situation for a few moments and saw that it was not without danger. There were two hungry hounds on either side of the picnic table. The robin timed his flight, swept in and carried off the cheese so swiftly and beautifully it made everyone present smile. Here was a moment of simple decision making that required little effort.

Contrast the slow and awkward way we get around to doing things. Using our opinions as crutches when we really don’t know what to do. It’s hard, though, to realise opinions do not matter when you have spent years carefully curating a point of view. Opinions feel like life and death. The most opinionated often win, not because their opinions are superior, but because the very act of holding onto an opinion takes tenacity. The opinionated are terriers with a juicy idea between their teeth. Try to take it away and they snap.

All conflict is rooted in differences of opinion, in blind stubbornness in some form. Try tackling it head on and it digs in deeper. No side can win. It means years of deadlock. I’m thinking of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, government and business policy makers and climate change campaigners. The differences between France and the UK, all defined by opinion masquerading as truth.

In all situations of conflict there is a place where both sides recognise each other, where they see the other in themselves. The ability to pause and consider the consequences of our strong points of view is not admired as much as a powerful argument. But in pausing, in taking a moment to think of the way our words or actions might land on another, we take a radical step away from our sheltered opinions and into something much deeper and wider.

In stepping away from certainty and into the big unknown, we encounter all the limitless alternatives we need to create a world that is not defined by those who push hardest. We don’t need stronger opinions. We need a robin’s piercing clarity of vision.

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