What lenses are you wearing?

“Everything depends on the lenses through which we view the world.  By putting on new lenses, we can see things that would otherwise remain invisible” (Palmer, 2007, p. 27). Every day I see opportunities for myself and others around me to look at people and situations from a different vantage point.  When we are stuck in the same old place, we look at things with the same preconceived notions that we always did.  Our lenses are created by our current environment, our experiences and by what has shaped us. Our current lenses are limited by our current level of knowledge and experience.  But we will not grow or expand if we continue to look through the same old lenses.

If we turned things around (or even upside down) and looked at them from a different vantage point, we would see things in a whole new light.  When we say that we “respect diversity” and we truly demonstrate the activities that SHOW that we respect diversity, we must put on different lenses in order to embrace the differences that others bring to the table.  Consider these situations:

  1. When you see someone who is dressed differently than you do, instead of thinking, “That person is weird” consider thinking, “That person is unique and feels comfortable enough to dress differently and feel positive about himself”.
  2. When someone in your training class keeps asking the same question over and over again, instead of thinking, “That person just doesn’t get it; what a dummy” consider thinking, “That person needs help and is trying really hard to solve the problem and is not afraid to ask for help”.
  3. When you see a homeless person on the street, instead of thinking, “That person is lazy and just needs to get a job” consider thinking, “That person is down on his luck and I hope he gets what he needs to survive”.
  4. When you hear someone make a racial slur, instead of thinking, “That person is an idiot and needs to be put in his place” consider thinking, “That person is missing out on some of the greatest joys in life by narrowing his scope of friends to people just like him. How sad”.

Consider all the situations in which you make assumptions about how other people are thinking or feeling, or how they are coping with certain situations.  Through what lens are you looking at that situation? Is it a lens of not knowing, a lens of previous experience with that person, a lens of what you have heard from others or simply a lens of assumption?  Take a few moments to consider the lenses you wear and how they impact the relationships in your life.

Are there situations where I need to look at things through a different lens?  Am I open to the possibility that I am narrowing my vision by continuing to look through the same old lenses?


Palmer, P. (2007). The courage to teach. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

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