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PERSPECTIVE

Definition of the word of the week (PERSPECTIVE): The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance

American publisher Roger Birkman wrote, “The reality of life is that your perceptions – right or wrong – influence everything else you do. When you get a proper perspective of your perceptions, you may be surprised how many other things fall into place.” Getting a proper perspective and keeping it can be a challenge.

Our perspective, or frame of reference, is a result of our personal experiences, our personal value system and our upbringing. Consequently, two people can experience or witness the exact same event but have starkly different perceptions of what took place. As the old saying goes, we should walk a mile in the other person’s shoes.

It is human nature for one to feel sorry for oneself. Self-pity has never been in short supply. But, when we take a different perspective, it can help put things into context. For example, America is dealing with some pressing issues such as rising fuel charges and this winter may be very hard on many of our poor. However, anyone in central Georgia who thinks that they have a tough life should think about all of our displaced Americans who were victims of the hurricanes. And, even these victims should consider what life is like elsewhere in this world. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to visit some really poor areas in a Central American country. By comparison, the poorest of our American poor live like royalty!

In our cadet program, we sometimes do road marches with backpacks of various weights. It does not take long before some folks start feeling sorry for themselves. When the self-pity bubbles up, I challenge them with this observation: our soldiers in Iraq are carrying twice the weight and moving at twice the pace. From this perspective, our folks should have nothing to complain about.

Yes, America is going through some tough times right now. However, she has weathered tough times before and will do so again. Each of us will experience tough times in our life. But, if we take a long-term perspective and put our troubles in context, we will realize that tough times are part of life and things will get better.

Let us all realize that we do not walk this earth alone. In the end, the forces of light and goodness will always vanquish the forces of darkness and evil.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective. Al Neuharth, Publisher

There is today…a need to know who we are and how we got here. It is an on-going search, often unconscious, for a cosmic perspective for humanity. Carl Sagan, Astronomer

Values provide perspective in the best of times and the worst. Charles Garfield, Peak performance expert.

Winners have the ability to step back from the canvas of their lives like an artist gaining perspective. They make their lives a work of art – an individual masterpiece. Denis Waitley, Author

You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective. Denis Waitley, Author

If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective by expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own. Stephen Covey, Author

Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, and integrated wholeness. Stephen Covey, Author

COL Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone at 478-445-2710 or by email at pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us.