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Your Ability to See

You probably have good enough vision, but do you see? Can you really SEE? Let’s explore that question together, in this post and the next.

Most of us have carefully cultivated perspectives by which we navigate the complexities and nuances of life. In this way, we think we accurately see and live. Nothing inherently wrong with the underlying survival skill here, which is helpful in processing the large amount of information we daily confront. A danger that emerges, however, is when after working hard to cultivate our personal perspectives, we become overly attached and even proud of them. That pride makes it hard to see, let alone understand and accept, that those perspectives may be inaccurate if not deadly wrong.

Our carefully cultivated perspectives are partly defense mechanisms and partly ways to bypass critical thinking. In this way, our perspectives are like one side of a coin, and our blind spots are the other side. Our blind spots may be small and contribute to our misunderstanding a person or culture who is not a threat, but we have incorrectly prejudged because of a faulty perspective. Likewise, our blind spots may be enormous and contribute to our misunderstanding a concept or system that is a threat, but we have incorrectly prejudged because of a faulty perspective.

We know an engineer, for example, who in college was taught to read and extract only the information he needed to efficiently work and solve the problem in front of him. He learned that method well. But that training and experience—those myopic lenses through which he learned to operate—tends to limit his way of seeing and his carefully cultivated perspectives. He’s since become aware of how his pride in his way of seeing, selecting, and processing information hinders him, and he’s working on broadening his perspectives.

Others have cultivated the ability to see and hold multiple perspectives simultaneously. Lawyers, by way of just one example, are trained to look for and try to see as many perspectives as possible. The potential client walking into the law office might be the pedestrian injured in a big-rig wreck who must sue the trucking company to cover her medical expenses, or the owner of the trucking company that needs whatever defenses are available for the same big-rig wreck. No matter the role, the good lawyer wants to see as deeply into that wreck as possible and without her own faulty perceptions clouding her vision.

Usually, all one needs is a receptive mindset and to relax a little to achieve clearer vision. This often means setting aside some carefully guarded perspectives and being open to other possibilities. No, we’re not suggesting you be so open minded that your brain leaks out. But recognize that to mature means to change and to significantly mature means to change often. After all, you’re not the same person you were in 4th grade. You’ve experienced a lot of maturity since then and you have a lot more coming your way, if you’re open and willing.

Our moments of clearer vision are like piercing an optical illusion. Looking for the first time at the old and well-known illustration above, our engineer friend saw only the left-side facial profile of an old woman. After he was assured that there was more to the drawing and dropping his guard a bit, the image of a young woman looking away eventually emerged for him. In little time he could alternatively see either old woman–young woman image because he had been willing to broaden his perspective. When shown this same illusion, an attorney friend said she had no difficulty seeing both faces immediately and, in fact, could see and hold both faces (in what she said feels like) simultaneously.

Better than seeing both sides of the old woman-young woman image, we like being able to see deeper with clearer vision. And we’ll further describe that in the next blog post. For now, we ask, “How do you view America’s version of capitalism?” Do you have a carefully cultivated perspective that limits how you see? Do you see just one side, like seeing just one of the women in the image? If so, are you willing to consider that your carefully cultivated perspective of American capitalism is misguided if not dangerous?

Maybe you’re locked into seeing only the benefits or only the evils of capitalism (America’s version or others')? We encourage you to consider there are additional perspectives that point the way to a more humane version of capitalism, especially our American version. If you’re receptive to a more humane version of capitalism, we invite you to join us in learning about and making the transformative move to Partnership Economics and a better capitalism.

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