May 16, 2011

Perspective

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Recently, someone asked me a question about how to gain a better perspective and be more informed about the world.  So I started thinking about the things that guide the way I process information.  I came to the conclusion that the key thing is to gather info from a variety of sources. 
"When you listen [to] and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice" - Tim Keller

If you are going to gain a really good grasp of anything you have to make yourself aware of all that's out there.  Even hearing perspectives that you disagree with will help you to sharpen your understanding of your own position.
"The first to speak in court sounds right--until the cross-examination begins" - Proverbs 18:17
It's easy for somebody to seem compelling if you're only hearing their side of the story.  They can accentuate the strong parts of their argument and omit the weaker parts.  But what happens when someone comes forward and points out the flaws in another's argument? Or exposes their biases?  You're able to see the issue with a little more clarity.

Here are a few tips:
  • Listen to multiple sources of wisdom, then see how those perspectives fit in to what you believe.  
  • Embrace the challenge of re-examining the way you see the world.  
  • Don't be afraid if the information you hear leads you to ask yourself difficult questions.  
  • Listen to people who are at different stages of life.
  • Hear from people who know more and those who know less than you do about an issue.  You can learn something from everybody.

The practical way to become aware of various perspectives is to read.  Books, blogs, news articles, magazines, etc.  The more the better.  This is what works for me:
  • My faith is central to my perspective on everything, and I use YouVersion to read a few chapters of the Bible each day.  
  • I use Google Reader to keep up with about 70 blogs on various topics (faith, politics, technology, culture, etc).  
  • I use Twitter to make me aware of things in real-time and to find interesting people and sites to learn from.  
  • And Kindle for Android has made it much more convenient for me to read books.

What goes into shaping your views or perspectives?
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