The Power of Perspective

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“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” ― Mother Teresa

 

Have you ever felt that you were trying hard to fight against an injustice, and it began to feel like the fight was hopeless? Have you run up against a wall of futility – meaning defensiveness, denial and lack of buy-in on the part of others around a particular issue?

If so, it’s time to take a step back and breathe. Examine the angle, viewpoint or approach you’ve been taking.  I believe a change in approach could eliminate some, if not most of “the wall.” If you, like me, are striving for a positive impact in connection with an injustice, perhaps it’s best to shift to a positive approach, like Mother Teresa suggests – a simple change of perspective from which all expressions in the movement emanate.

I have been so frustrated with the impact (or lack of) that my rants against ageism have  had and the dismal responses from many regarding the issue of ageism. When I first read Dr. Robert Butler’s report, “Ageism in America,” my pendulum of passion swung too far – to the point where I believed an all-out war must be waged on ageism! We must, I believed, rise up as a society once did against the injustice of racism – but this time against the injustice of ageism. The sooner the better!

I began to question, “Where are the Abraham Lincolns and Martin Luther King, Jr’s. of ageism?” “Why are so many people pushing back against the fight instead of pushing for a change?”

Now as I reflect back on my message, I believe I was taking the wrong approach. To lead a successful movement, we must show people what they are fighting for, and in so doing, enlist them in the movement by demonstrating how they can have a positive impact.

People are weary of taking up sword to fight sword, and it is not always necessary to do so. We can have a positive impact on the injustices we seek to eliminate in several other ways:

  • Challenge your own views of the issue,
  • Analyze and stop your own perpetuation of whatever injustice you are mindful of at the moment,
  • Realize most people who say things or act  in stereotypical ways, do so unintentionally because it has been so ingrained and accepted by society,
  • Be gentle with people when sharing your awakened viewpoint, and educate them humbly with the possibilities of the positive,
  • Choose your battles wisely: learn to disengage with the futile and follow the possible,
  • Be patient, and consistent with your message.

I have finally thrown down my sword in the fight against ageism, and joined an awareness campaign on the positive aspects and influences that people who are older have on our world. Won’t you join me?

4 Comments

  1. Jim Binder

    Great article Kathy. Sometimes we get blindsided by our passion and need to step back & work with people at their level because as you say they are not even aware sometimes of
    ingrained perspectives. Not easy…but sometimes the only way.

    • Oh, those crimes of passion are seldom fruitful! Thanks for reading, Jim, and sharing your thoughts with other readers of Refined by Age.

  2. cheryltownsendwinter

    Kathy –
    Based on this article, you might really enjoy a new book: The Upside of Aging by Paul Irving. It is all about the positive aspects of aging & it is very well written.
    Cheryl

    Cheryl Townsend Winter, DDS, MSD, MBAAuthor, The Aging Gracefully Pathway: A Toolkit for the Journey
    Diplomate, American Board of PeriodontologyFellow, American Academy of PeriodontologyAffiliate Associate Professor, University of Washington Department of PeriodonticsGovernor Appointed Member WA State Council on Aging

    Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:18:26 +0000
    To: c_townsend@msn.com

    • Cheryl, How nice to hear from you again. Thank you for the recommendation – I am an avid reader. Have you finished your book yet? Let me know when you have. I’ll be interested in reading it. Kathy

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