Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Parallel Worlds

I once heard about a drifter who lived in a tent in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and tragically died in a fire.  On the evening news, there was a tribute from acquaintances who declared that “He had his own sense of reality”.  That line always brings a smile, as it sounded so prototypical California.

But with deeper thought I believe that we each have our own sense of reality and live within our own individual worlds. When I travel to new places, I love to visit grocery stores and markets and think about how other people live and how different their realities are than mine.  LWP Janet and I talk a lot about turning the camera around. I try to think both about how different they are than I am but also how different my life must look to them.

We Are Anonymous

I started to think about this in a different way as I read the book We are Anonymous by Parmy Olson. It provides wonderful detail and color about the world of hacking, cyber security and the people who participate.  I had heard of Anonymous, but, while reading about people who live for their online communications and actions, I realized that they live in a completely different world than me.  They are focused entirely on online information and many are motivated by pranks—some to change the world and some just to hurt others.  It almost sounded like Lord of the Flies in the emphasis on group evil.  A slogan of Anonymous is none of us is as cruel as all of us”.  This sends shivers down my spine.

Nurturing Nun = Radical Feminist?

The concept of different worlds has been apparent in watching some of the high level activity in the Catholic church recently.  American Catholic nuns feel that in working with the poor, the uneducated and those without many choices in life, they can appreciate the choices individuals have to make.  They understand the importance of social services and low cost medical care such as that offered by Planned Parenthood.  The hierarchy of the U.S. Bishops has pushed for greater control over the American nuns and the Vatican has called them radical feminists.  The nuns and the bishops work from the same Bible but have different realities.

Politicians who talk about people on food stamps (the SNAP program) needing to just get jobs are out of touch. They live in the world where family income is sufficient to cover all necessary expenses.  If you cannot pay for quality food, others live in a world where their realities dictate that you must be unemployed.  They cannot seem to understand the reality of the lives of the 41% of households who receive SNAP who have income, but the earnings are so low that the workers need assistance.  These realities are so far apart.

Turn the Camera Around

Before judging someone else, there is an expression that you should walk a mile in their shoes.  Turn the camera around and think about the world from someone else’s point of view–except for those who get pleasure out of being cruel.  That still sounds bad.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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