We all perceive daily experiences differently due to a variety of influences from the past and present. Perhaps, our tendencies are dictated more genetically, or more through repetitive processes that form who we are today. Maybe we are affected more by failure than triumph, or more by love than hate. Maybe its more by eBay than Amazon, or Judaism than Christianity, or stocks than bonds. Choices affect us all, but how does the understanding of others’ perceptions assist in building bridges to the future?
In the past, those lucky enough to have a family, or anything resembling the typical nuclear model, could be perceived as being lucky. But today with so much collaboration available to us from so many inexpensive sources, how important is the role of the “mom” or “dad?”
Suppose a 15-year old boy loses his father and must become the “man” of the house prematurely. Will he quickly learn to become a “father” figure to his younger siblings, or will he remain in a “big brother” role? And how much faster would this transition occur today than compared to 20 years ago?
Now imagine that he has been abused. Imagine he has been abused by both parents, but with only one parent remaining. Imagine he has been abused by one but not the other. Imagine if the abuse was physical, or emotional, or psychological. Imagine a combination of abusers and effects of abuse.
I am from the school of thought that claims 10% of life is what happens, and 90% is how we react to it. In this situation, if the child matures quickly to better serve a “father” figure role, it could be the result of an ingrained characteristic, or simply a positive reaction to life experience. The child could also mature more slowly though, where the same “loss of a father” would cause an entirely opposite negative reaction.
But suppose the same 15-year old accepted additional responsibilities, helped forge his family forward, while becoming a leader before his time. Suppose he applied these skills to the military for an education, instead of a University system for instance, because his leadership skills were so advanced at such a young age, that he needed to lead others. And suppose he is sent off to war to live or die. And then again a year later. And then again.
But, i’m not talking about life or death from war, which is awful to even think about. I’m talking about the aspects of life that these leaders lose because of war, and because they are so capable of being strong leaders. I’m talking about each patch on their shoulder that represents 15 friends and soldiers killed by someone, or some cause, that they couldn’t trust. How does this same decorated leader, that began supporting his family at 15 years old, experience the beauty of falling in love, the freedom of traveling with a friend, or all the other experiences that shape us even into our 20’s and 30’s.
Sometimes life is what we make it, and other times, life is what is handed to us. But, usually its a hybrid of our past and present influences, and how we manage them. For some, life may never exist again with trust or faith as core components. Then again, maybe trust and faith are the glue that hold the family together in times like these, and are the same core components that the soldier seeks to redeem from past losses or premature expectations.
But soldiers don’t get to check their blogs, or watch LOST, or speed-date every Tuesday night. They don’t get to accept love on their own terms, or at their own pace, or from the same pool that we all enjoy. And, ultimately, they don’t get to naively trust casual encounters in life: a luxury that allows us to implement our vast perceptions into productive romantic, business, and societal relationships. It is critical that we exhibit the ability to perceive, and understand, similar experiences through the eyes of others, thereby continually building bridges for collaboration and societal evolution.