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Walla Walla, WA
Thursday, June 8, 2023

It’s All about people!

May 18, 2023
Jason Nuessle

Reissue: Originally Published October 22, 1992

Jason Nuessle

Have you ever been wildly misunderstood? Have you ever had someone interpret something you said in a way other than it was intended? Have you ever inadvertently used some word, phrase, or tone that had a different meaning for another individual and triggered a hostile response? Have you ever felt the difficulty in helping someone else understand your point of view because of the difficulties in translating to a perspective different than your own? Are these evidence of the huge gaps in between people troubling to you? 

Maybe you have seen one of these people wandering around campus with a fevered and intensely contemplative look in their eye, the ones who are ready to wax eloquent on any subject, trivial, or otherwise, with considerable passion. You may also have noticed the shy and studious student in one of your classes who upon occasion will get up the courage and speak and say something particularly profound. Possibly you have observed the chorus and cynical curmudgeon who upon occasion seems to show evidence of having some red emotional insights about life. 

Have you ever taken a moment to find out a bit more about any of these people who interest you by starting a conversation or asking a few questions? Justifications for keeping silent abound. How could you possibly come to understand their view of things? Perhaps they don't want you to pry into their beliefs. Do you have the time to make such a conversation valuable? 

So, what if you never happen to talk to these people who are intriguing and enigmatic. So, what if you never take a second glance at those who do not seem to be so mysterious, or even interesting, but who may have a different side than the one they show the world. So, what if the view that you hold of another person is not particularly flattering or accurate. 

Who really cares that the excuses that you use may be just another way of emphasizing the differences, stereotyping individuals, and placing them in nice, safe cubbyholes that help you to maintain a false, but comforting picture of the people around you? Maybe you don't care, but you should. 

It's possible that it is easier and more convenient to shun and fear that which we fail to understand. Maybe the differences and gaps are intimidating. If we choose to attempt finding out what someone else really thinks, we may be unable to bridge whatever differences that exist or may be misunderstood. But the fact of the matter is that if we have any integrity, we owe it to ourselves to TRY to understand other perspectives, or at least the people that they belong to. Without an ever-increasing awareness of others, the beliefs that they hold, and the reasons that they hold these beliefs, we will never perceive more in the world than we do right now. 

You may amass more intellectual knowledge about the world, but you will not KNOW it. 



  1. Portrait by Stephen Turk. 
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