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What did you see?

Picture this: You're watching a movie wherein there is a crime scene. You and five other people, who each had the same opportunity to see the episode, came up with five different scenarios about what happened and different descriptions of the players in the scene. How can that be?

Focus. Priority. Influence.

We will focus in on what matters to us. What are our personal preferences, our strengths, our weaknesses? Perhaps someone who loves fashion would hone in on what the actors were wearing or how their hair was styled. Car buffs would likely be able to tell you the year and make of every vehicle involved. Ever notice that when you are asked to pay attention to a particular thing, like how many white trucks there are on the road, that you begin seeing them everywhere? Focus could change daily because it depends on what is important to us at that time.

Priority, however, may only fluctuate a little bit over time. We build our list, internal perhaps, of qualities we admire or value. They can change position on our list, but they don't usually fall off the list. For instance, honesty may be a top priority for you as you go through your day--something you expect from other people as well as yourself. It may drop down the list a smidge if you decide you want to get out of a situation. Ever fake a sick day or avoid a caller by stepping into the shower (with it not running) so that you can later tell that person that you were "in the shower" when they called?

Getting back to the crime scene, how you view it in light of your own priorities, may skew your vision somewhat...raise or lower your standards, which could be another word for priorities. One of my pet peeves is when athletes, especially, raise their fists and yell in victory. To me, it is showing pride, which is one of those attributes I don't like to see in others, much less in myself. So if I was watching the scene, and the alleged criminal is showing arrogance in some way, I would be inclined to be against them, whether or not they were guilty. Is that fair? Of course not. We ALL have those buttons, though, that, when pushed, lead us to pivot one way or another.

Influence is ingrained and difficult, if not impossible, to change. It is who we denying it. It's in our genes, or burned on our circuits from early childhood experiences. It's how we think and directs how we live and make decisions. It's what drives the priorities and focuses in our life, and it can be good or bad, in a general sense. If we were victims of violent trauma early in our lives, for example, we would likely react differently to a violent crime and see more or see less based on that experience. So it's the "baggage" we carry, although that term often has a negative connotation.

I say all this to ask that we consider that every person has a different perspective. That doesn't mean that we cannot come together. It takes acknowledging our differences as positives and listening to each other in productive conversations instead of blame sessions and name-calling bouts.

If we focus on how we each, individually, can prioritize to put others ahead of ourselves and be a positive influence, build others up instead of knocking them down, then we WILL create a healthy, vibrant, and successful community.

"People who love their dream of community will destroy a community, but the people who love those around them create community."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer


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