Many of us started the year with routines that have now gone out of the window. Some of us are working from home now or dealing with people who haven’t been there before. It’s been an adjustment all around. It’s been the same with my word of the month posts. But, I come back today with a word I think we all need to be reminded about. The word is perspective, and it’s important because the Internet and social media have made it easy to throw around judgments without getting personally involved in a situation and with the potential of hurting many people.
So, perspective, what does it mean? The definition I’m using for the purposes of this post is this one. Perspective is a “particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.” (Dictionary.com) Now, we all have different perspectives, and that’s how it’s supposed to be since we’re all human. Nothing wrong with that. But, I have been reminded over these last six weeks of quarantine how fragile humanity is. I was able to ignore it at first. The little jab here of people standing too close together in public. The little jab there of people bringing their children to the grocery store. People complaining about others walking or running outside. Getting into fights (online) about valuing money more than people’s lives. It got to the point where I would just shake my head and roll my eyes at how vicious people were being with one another.
But, then it got personal. As most of us know, this pandemic has several moving parts–physical, mental, educational, and economic. We’ve also been divided into two camps–the essential worker and the non-essential worker. Don’t get me wrong. I applaud all the people who are doing the things we consider essential in our society. But, I think this labeling has been a good way to get fights started. The parts of this pandemic have also affected people in different ways. For me, it has been my mental illness and how confinement has affected it. The economic realities of being confined have also taken their toll. I have not made a secret of suffering from depression and anxiety and being confined has made my reality more difficult. I also knew that for every person saying it was too soon to release the restrictions and that many more deaths from the virus would probably result, there would also be another person with their hand out for the rent or mortgage payment. All of us have our own priorities, right?
So, anyway, I started sharing some articles and posting about my own experiences with mental illness during this lockdown. Nothing that attacked anyone. Just things from my own perspective. Things I felt were important to say. I received some support, but that was not the point of my posting. A few days later I read a post decrying anyone who had been posting about mental illness. Their perspective was that anyone who was not posting about the pandemic itself was being selfish. I thought back over the previous few weeks and the thoughts I had been battling of not being enough or not being worthy of being here anymore. I thought of how it seemed we were all on top of each other with no privacy to be had. This is not a good thing for me.
There were no names in the post, but I felt like I had been slapped. Then, I got angry and wanted to retaliate. Fortunately, I was talked down from what I wanted to do and blocked the person instead. I decided to take some time to work out my feelings in my head and in my journal. My feelings of anger and my feelings of not being enough. (Remember, essential workers versus non-essential workers.) Finally, it came to me. The word, perspective. The person who had made the post had a very narrow perspective because of the job they had chosen for their life’s work, and they were unable; maybe even unwilling to widen it. I felt better then. It wasn’t my job to fix someone else’s perspective. It was my job to keep my outlook as wide as possible and to keep my attitude free from judgment. Isn’t that what God has asked us to do?
May we all keep our minds open during this time of isolation!