esther m palmer

how I discovered multiple perspectives

I pride myself (humbly, I hope) on being a champion for multiple perspectives.


Because it hurts less and heals more.

Let me explain.

For a brief time, I attended a boarding school that held mandatory "non-denominational" chapel service once a week. Well, as a proud non-believer, and rather bratty anti-religion-ist, I thought this was basically a violation of my right not to worship.

So what did I do --did I file an official complaint? I was 14 and I was shy, so no, I just grumbled to myself every time they made us line up to enter the chapel, double file.

Apparently, I also made faces, complete with lip smirking, eye rolling, and any facial twitch that could signal disgust (remember, I was 14!). The introvert's silent rebellion.

It turns out faces aren't as silent as I assumed! My contortions were plainly legible to anyone who caught a glimpse of them.

One of my peers, whose father was a local reverend, took me aside and admonished me: what I did was inconsiderate and unnecessary.

Nonetheless, she acknowledged respect for my lack of faith, and then told me that just because I didn't agree, didn't mean I should mock the efforts of others to explore and engage in this process of whatever it was we were supposed to be doing in chapel (I still am not sure).

She was right. And I knew it immediately. And as resistant as I generally am to admit when I am wrong, in this instance, I conceded my bad behavior happily and with apology.

She showed me her ability to see my point of view, so I discovered I could see hers, too.

I learned that day that there are multiple sides to every story.

Even better? I learned that holding space for my experience and for my friend's experience actually made me feel better about chapel. I still didn't listen to the lectures/sermons (still 14!), but I was now okay with the notion that it might be useful to others and that that was just as valid as how little it did for me.

Being more open minded to the thoughts of others made me feel better.

To this day, when I have a thought that closes my mind to what someone else might be feeling, I try to follow it up with a thought that opens it, even if only a tiny bit.

hari om tat sat!

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