Today, I saw a documentary titled The Imposter. If you go to my Rotten Tomatoes profile, you can read what I thought of it. In short, it’s a film about a mysterious case.
There are mainly three different parties describing the events in this film, and some of the things they say are contradictory. A novice ear will most probably agree with one side of the story and stick to that. The reason I didn’t however, has nothing to do with my academic background in law and everything to do with my constant observation of people; and of course my self-evaluations. I learned that there is much more to each person than meets the eye; statements and behaviors are grounded on a whole chain of past events and how the individual relates to these events. Meaning the guilty doesn’t behave like she’s guilty… obviously.
Different individuals perceive everything differently. In one world, there are more than six billion different worlds. Okay they’re not physical worlds, but each of us perceive events in our own ways. Outside the obvious rules of law, common sense, social interactions etc, lies a whole world where we create our own rights and wrongs. What your mother thinks is right, you might not. What you deem inappropriate behavior, your neighbor might experience as “having a good time”.
These are all things we’re aware of, but when it comes down to it… we forget them. When we’re arguing with somebody, we try to defend our view and attack theirs. Well of course you need to use the tools the specific situation calls for, but I think it’s important to remind ourselves during each argument that the opponent is perceiving everything differently. It is not wrong of her to do so; everything she has experienced in her life up to that moment has led her to have that specific stance on the subject. Imagine yourself in her shoes. And if you think it’s an impossible size to fit in, well then maybe you haven’t let yourself think deeply enough.
Many of us go through that phase in teenage when we’re angry at our parents for the choices they make for us. When we’re older but yet haven’t had any children, we still think our parents are making mistakes on this or that. And sometimes even after we have children, we’re convinced we’re going to make a better job at parenting than they did. I think it’s crucial, if you favor a more humanistic approach on matters, to constantly remind yourself of how all of us lead different lives in different times and different environments. Nobody is objective; where have your opinions derived from, for example?
That does not outrule however, that you cannot or should not at times influence someone to “do the right thing” or direct someone towards for example a less self-destructive path. You should not force it on that person. There are ways in which this can be achieved with as little damage as possible. And you always have to keep in mind that the result might not be “perfect”, e.g how it is inside your head; even if we change, the change develops in a way that adjusts to the person in question. If you help someone in becoming more outgoing, you can’t expect that person to make ten friends within a week. Maybe “outgoing” for that person simply means being able to make one friend, or be more confident in social gatherings.
With that said, I should return to my linguistics book.