The Window Through Which We Look
A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, The young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside. ‘That laundry is not very clean,’ she said. ‘She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.’
Her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, The young woman would make the same comments.
About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:
‘Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.’
The husband said, ‘I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.’
And so it is with life.
What we see when watching others depends on the window through which we look.
It is a sometimes human practice to sit in our easy chairs and judge others. To view their world through the comfort of our view of the world to see the defects on their side, rather than notice the cloudiness of our own lens.
I often hear this in the homeless-serving sector from those not immersed in the work. “Why do they drink?” “Why don’t they plan better for financial hardship?” “How can they let their children down like that [by bringing them to a homeless shelter]?
No matter the injustice about which we are speaking, or the social condition which we are viewing, our judgments come from a lack of understanding, an inability/unknowingness of how to step out of our own construct of how the world should be according to us, to see the world according to another’s lens and position in it. Living within our own world view, it is challenging to see how our privilege has provided us more grace, more room to make mistakes, more capacity to weather life’s storms. How another’s choices are not based on a ‘desire to create worse’ but rather a lack of opportunity or knowing of how to create better.
As I journey through this week, may I always remember that no matter my view, it is different than someone else’s. Not right. Not wrong. Just difference.
No one sits where I sit just as I do not walk in someone else’s shoes. May I always remember to check the cloudiness and cleanliness of my own view. That no matter my view, may I remember, it is more compelling and compassionate to make room for other’s to share their own views, rather than make them see mine as the right and only view through which they must live.