Building Our Own Perspectives
Illustrated by Paule Anne Pupo-Greene
Perspectives are not random manifestations that materialize in the likeness of a rabbit from an otherwise empty hat.
Perspectives are built.
They are fashioned from a careful amalgamation of time, place, circumstance, and individual predisposition. They are the products of the overextending reach of parents in the midst of the most impressionable instants of a child’s life. They are the nourishments taken in by our developing being, lent to us as we endeavour to fill the vast confines of our vacant minds with substance, as the tender fragility of our unknowing-ness utilizes these nourishments to form the columns and railings that serve as the fundamental framework of our entity.
In the early stages of life, perspectives are paint-by-number crafts; we are told how to colour the world and so we construct an image that is immovable and hollow, but that is nevertheless an image. We may believe that our viewpoint represents a complete scene, but as we grow and begin to venture further into the prior-unknown, our perspectives are further built and reinforced.
In this sense, our unique perspectives are works in progress; an abstract painting whose unrefined characteristics connote possibility. Being exposed to the real world, coming into contact with people wildly different from ourselves, going to new places, learning about new cultures, their struggles, and their hardships––this is how we continue to transcend the early understandings of our childhood and develop our individual perspectives. Arriving at the therapeutic understanding that others who seem unlike us are not so drastically dissimilar to us allows our perspectives to flourish in ways they had never had the liberty to do before.
Perspectives on the world around us are likewise built by reflecting upon the detriment that we inflict on our surroundings, whether knowingly or not. It is through this revelation that people may take two routes: that of indifference, or that of an eager willingness to change. Perspectives, therefore, are dependent on choice, and in this sense, perspectives may vary greatly from one person to the next, even if they are two people from the same cultural background, societal context, and ethnic origins.
This idea of how perspectives are built can relate, for example, to how we perceive our treatment of farm animals, which is a topic that is gaining more and more attention as movements like veganism move to the forefront of mainstream society’s interest. Growing up in a Christian family, I was raised to perceive a select grouping of animals as ‘companions’ and others as mere commodities whose exploitation was not only justified but also excusable and deemed necessary. My Greek grandfather was a hunter, and my Italian grandfather was a farmer. Never a day went by where I did not confront the reality of our constructed norms: that cows and pigs and chickens and fish were put on earth for humans to make use of in whatever way they see fit; that the abuse, the neglect, and the subsequent murder of these intelligent beings was not to be questioned or seen as wrongful as, after all, these animals would overrun the world if we didn’t eat them. By doing hours and hours of research on the subject, however, I built a perspective unique from that of my family- the perspective that this aspect of society is not only unnecessary, but also destructive, and a fundamental dismissal of the values that many humans claim to uphold, the values of compassion and empathy for one another.
Despite thinking in this way myself, I believe it is paramount to understand that not everyone sees the issue at hand under the same lens, or have built perspectives that nurture a desire to put an end to the meat industry and its affiliated problems. Many people’s lives are dependent on the very consumption of animals; peoples’ traditions and ethnic backgrounds mold their reactions to the question of what is ‘moral’, and, therefore, perspective is at least in part an issue of subjectivity.
Perspectives can bring entire groups of people together or be an force of utter divide.
Ultimately, our perspectives––built from an early age and then either reinforced, changed or otherwise developed throughout our lives––reveal our essence as individuals in a world so drastically divided in terms of what is right or wrong, good or bad, ethical or blatantly unethical.