Social Issues: Looking Beyond The Surface
A Spring rain turned the skies to gray today and a thick fog settled over the area. At first glance, this place I call home is ugly; horribly ugly. Evidence of prior storms is everywhere as limbs hang broken or torn from the ancient trees. Recent snows have left the earth saturated and mud has made its way from the shoulder of the roads onto city streets.
As I drove through the city, my thoughts began to turn as gray as the sky. I felt my mood sinking until… that voice that comes to me at unexpected times spoke once again. The voice said to me – “look beyond the surface”.
Pulling over to the edge of the road, I repeated the phrase to myself. “Look beyond the surface”. Knowing that there was a lesson in this simple phrase, I began to scan the area with my soft vision. I call it soft vision because it allows me to see the world from a softer perspective. Soft vision is free of judgment and biased opinion. I learned this technique several years ago when I took a class in Animal Tracking. You can read about that experience by clicking here.
Looking beyond the surface, I began to understand what the voice wanted me to remember. The voice wanted me to cast away the negative thinking and remember that new growth is lying just beneath the surface of those broken old trees. Spring is here. Soon, the temperatures will remain above 50 degrees and those tender green shoots of new leaves will burst from their winter hiding place. In just a few days, the pale flowers of the Dogwoods and Bradford Pear trees will decorate the landscape around me. The mud on the shoulder of the road will dry and blow away in a fine red cloud of dust. Yes, there is new life just below the surface and it is ready to take its place in the world.
- The Power of a Word
The Power of a Word is a challenge for all of us. Words have the capacity to change us, motivate us, and inspire us to be kinder, gentler, and more accepting of those who are different. Will you rise to the challenge?
- Living With Purpose
I am made of flesh, blood but I am also a soul, trying to live life with purpose. I am a free spirit who wants my days on earth to matter.
Another Layer in the Lesson
These lessons come to me at the oddest times and places and they are always multi-dimensional. I know this lesson on looking beyond the surface is about more than the landscape. I begin to think how this lesson might apply to people. I allowed my mind to drift and images of the unfamiliar faces of men, women, and children began to flow through my mind’s eye. I saw them in their day-to-day struggle for survival and I knew this lesson was bigger than me. It was a lesson about our society and how quickly we assume we know someone yet never look beyond that first impression. Don’t we all have circumstances in our lives that we don’t want to wear as a banner?
We are so quick to judge others from the first impression they make. In this small moment of contemplation, I am reminded of how unfair that is. We all have days when our appearance isn’t the best. We all have days when we just don’t care what our hair looks like or we throw on the old clothes because we have no plans to go out. Inevitably, that is the day that the doorbell rings and we stand face to face with the one person on earth we wouldn’t want to see on a grunge day. Skip a shower one night and the universe will laugh and make sure you have to run out to the store or your spouse’s boss will stop by. It happens to all of us but… we are NOT our clothes. We are NOT our messy, dirty hair. We are just human beings taking a day off to be a grunge. And, we got caught.
- Social Issues: The Judgement
Social Issues: The Judment asks - Do you know me? I mean, really know me? Have you stood in my shoes? Walked a mile in my boots? First impressions are often wrong and hurtful. How can we stop the judgment?
- Mankind - Are We Turning Into Rodents?
Sometimes I think mankind is turning into rodents. Our behavior mimics them more than it does a civilized society.
We must question ourselves before judging
The truth is, we are just average people who occasionally don’t look our best. Before we judge others on a first impression, it might be helpful to ask ourselves some questions.
- Is she a mother who has been up all night with a sick child?
- Did he just finish working a 12 hour shift on his second job?
- Are they part of this “sandwich generation”; the caregivers for their aging parents, and their grandchildren too?
- Was she sexually violated by her husband’s brother earlier today?
- Is social services trying to take his children away because he was late paying child support this month?
- Is her boyfriend forcing her into prostitution to help pay for his drug habit?
Will You Look Beyond the Surface?
Our lives are complex and they are becoming more complicated by economic stress and peer pressure. We are more than what we appear on the surface and perhaps if someone cared enough to look, we could bloom like the trees of Spring. If someone would look beyond the surface, perhaps they would see the potential in a young life or the creative genius that has been suppressed by the complications of a relationship. Perhaps there is a poem or a song waiting to be heard or a design waiting to make its way to a canvas.
Could it be that beyond the surface of the uneducated is a brilliant mind? Is there a dedicated employee underneath the surface of the unemployed? Is there a tender smile hiding in the face of the young wife who is unappreciated? Does the young man working for a minimum wage have a God-given talent for technology that is being wasted because no one has offered encouragement?
There is hidden potential in every human being and sometimes it is just waiting for someone to notice. Perhaps if we took the time to “look beyond the surface” we would discover the beauty in others. Maybe someone would see the beauty that lies within us too.
First impressions are not always accurate. What is hiding beyond the surface? Do you care?
© 2013 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.