For this blog entry we will be using the cognitive definition of perspective: "one's point of view, or how people view life and things based on beliefs and opinions." For those who don't know-I have been asked to co-host a radio show on ELWA radio called "Facts you should know". I talk about health, fitness and diet. One of the perspectives in Liberia that some of us westerns have a hard time getting used to is-that if you are bigger or 'fat' you are rich and have status. Many times our Liberian staff will come up to an ex-pat staff member and say "you are look fat-oh!! you have side pockets!!" As they are saying this, they are grabbing and pinching your arm (that you thought was smaller) and they are smiling as if they are proud of you for gaining that extra 10 pounds over homeleave...
What I have been trying to explain on my radio show is, not that people are rude, but that the perspective of being bigger or eating unhealthy or too much is not a good status symbol...in fact you could be damaging your body and compromising your health. I remember when I illustrated this by showing our staff a video of how a heart attack occurs-National Geographic has a great video of a heart and the arteries slowly getting clogged and then rupturing...you should have heard the gasps from our staff!
My perspective can be off at times too. My perspective when I go to a poor village can be one of despair and no hope. But when I meet our staff who are working so hard in tough places or the beneficiaries of our projects and hear their stories, stories of hope-my perspective changes. I begin to see the beauty in the ashes, the hope in the eyes of people and most importantly, I see beautiful people created in the image of God.
Getting a better perspective...
Race training: I am starting to see the perspective of our staff change as training for the Aug. 28th race gets closer. Before, some of our staff couldn't even imagine doing just one 1.6 mile lap of ELWA...now they are doing 2 and some are doing even 3!! (that's 5 miles!!) Their perspective has changed their belief that they can do 10km is strong! One of our ex-pat staff, Jeremy Kilday-is hoping to run the marathon-his perspective on distance is changing as his training gets harder. 10 miles is not that far to run anymore-his perspective has changed since running 15 miles! More staff members are coming to our Wed./Friday training days too-here is the group who participated in our Wed. work-out and run day.
Perspective-one of the things I love is hearing people's comments as our staff run by, especially our female staff. The perspective that maybe some of our female staff can't run never mind run 10km is shattered as the ladies run by everyone!
Perspective is a powerful thing-it can put you in a bad mood or it can help you see the better side of life. What is your perspective of the poor? What is your perspective of your role in helping those in need? It is my hope and prayer that your perspective is one of hope and like our staff, who are training so hard, that nothing is impossible no matter what situation you are or what people say about you.