I’ve always known that each of us has a different way of seeing life and the world based on our own unique background. Our opinions come from what we’ve read, seen, heard and learned, all steeped in our own self-hoods, our childhoods, our family and friends, what we’ve had or not had. So I definitely respect the fact that we won’t all see life very much the same at all. And that’s OK. It makes life and interactions with each other interesting.
But a pertinent layer of the package of beliefs that each of us carries is that of how we see our life in an even bigger potential picture. Some of us have no belief whatsoever that anything exists outside of the 20, 40, 60, 80, or 101 years we might live on this Earth. But others of us believe that mortal life is just a part of our whole existence. For instance, I believe in the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that we were created as spirits by a loving God and we lived as spirits with Him and learned what we could before we were born on Earth, which is a vital and necessary part of our learning and growing process as people. And after we die, we have a whole eternity ahead of us. This life may be 10 or 100 years long (and whatever it is, it can feel like a very long time), but it’s still a tiny portion of our whole life. Not to say that it’s not very, very important, but it’s short when you look at the big picture.
I’ve definitely come to appreciate recently just what a huge difference just this one facet of belief about life, which we all experience but experience differently, makes in who we are and how we approach life and other people in our world. We may debate about politics or moral issues and have vastly different ideas about how things should be legislated — or not. But if we don’t appreciate even a little each other’s backgrounds, it makes it impossible to understand the other’s point of view. It also sometimes means that, once we learn and understand a little about the “other side,” we likely will still stay in our own corner, sure of our own way of thinking. But at least we will have had the time to “travel,” to walk in someone else’s shoes.
I know many people don’t agree with some of my opinions, just as I don’t agree with theirs. That’s OK. But I know where I belong in the “big picture,” and having an eternal perspective makes all the difference for me.