Things Are Not Always Black or White

Things Are Not Always Black or White

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Things Are Not Always Black or White

Teachers are those who use themselves as bridges,
Over which they invite their students to cross;
Then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse,
Encouraging them to create bridges of their own.

Nikos Kazantzakis

When I was in elementary school, I got into a major argument with a boy in my class. I have forgotten what the argument was about, but I have never forgotten the lesson I learned that day.

I was convinced that I was right and he was wrong— and he was just as convinced that I was wrong and he was right. The teacher decided to teach us a very important lesson. She brought us up to the front of the class and placed him on one side of her desk and me on the other. In the middle of her desk was a large, round object. I could clearly see that it was black. She asked the boy what color the object was. “White,” he answered.

I couldn’t believe he said the object was white, when it was obviously black! Another argument started between my classmate and me, this time about the color of the object.

The teacher told me to go stand where the boy was standing and told him to come stand where I had been. We changed places, and now she asked me what the color of the object was. I had to answer, “White.” It was an object with two differently colored sides, and from his viewpoint it was white. Only from my side was it black.

My teacher taught me a very important lesson that day: You must stand in the other person’s shoes and look at the situation through their eyes in order to truly understand their perspective.

Judie Paxton

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