Learning to See the World through Someone Else’s Eyes – a Challenge from Richard Hughes, Myths America Lives By


Every now and then, I pull out one of already read, or not yet read, “serious” books. You know, books written by academicians, filled with footnotes, and not having all that wide an audience. I wish I read more of these. But, as always, so many books, so little time…

Myths America Lives ByOne book that I occasionally look at again is a book by Theology Professor Richard Hughes. I’ve read a couple of his books. In the book Myths America Lives By, he writes this:

There is perhaps no more compelling task for Americans to accomplish in the twenty-first century than to learn to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

He is partly speaking about people who view America in a different light than “we” normally do. From the book:

Those of us who view America as a good and compassionate nation are almost always people who have benefited from its policies…

There is, however, another side to this story. It comes from those whose voices are seldom heard – from the poor and the dispossessed, not only in this country but also throughout the world.

To see the world through someone else’s eyes — this is the universal challenge. In an era when women earn more college degrees that men, they are still underrepresented in the top circles of power. In a world growing increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity, we still see African Americans and Hispanics underrepresented in circles of influence. In our country, in other words, we still see plenty of powerful circles primarily made up of white, non-Hispanic, men.

And, the number of people in our own country living below the poverty dividing line is growing.

Even a casual reading of the writings of “different” voices lets us know that our circles may be too closed. Seeing through other’s eyes, hearing through other’s ears, requires actual exposure to what they see, what they think, what they hear… and what they then say about all of this.

At the moment, I think of the writings of Ta-Nehisi Coates (he writes for The Atlantic).. His is the voice that continually makes me see that this world, this country, is vastly different for African Americans than it is for those of us who are white – especially white, non-Hispanic.

But, this short post is to present a simple challenge – are you reading any writings that bring a genuinely different perspective? Have you exposed your own eyes and ears to any of these alternative voices?

If not, then you probably could tackle some intentional “seeing the world through someone else’s eyes” reading.

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