At a work conference a few years ago, I listened to a charismatic and energetic motivational speaker, Vinh Giang, as he talked about perspective. His stage performance included magic tricks, which was a welcome change from the typical line up of “you can do anything you put your mind to” presentations.
He was phenomenal, and the thousands of us in that event hall were absolutely blown away with childlike wonder and awe. His final trick had me convinced that he must have some crazy demon inside of him, because HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN? It seemed impossible.
From my perspective, it was pure magic. How could he make items disappear?
In Brooklyn Park, MN years ago, the racially diverse city where I now happen to reside, Noah Bergland drove through. A white police officer questioned Noah. “What are you doing here? You realize you’re in a rough part of town? I don’t want you running into problems.”
From the officer’s perspective, he was protecting a vulnerable, young, white man.
At Roseau High School a handful of years ago, the daily stack of newspapers in the teachers’ lounge suddenly became an elephant in the room. One of our own, Noah Bergland, was on the covers of all of them with a mugshot and charges of drug trafficking. I didn’t know Noah, but I knew his mother and many of his family members.
From my perspective, I was angry at the seemingly selfish and inexcusable actions of this young man. I then watched in shock as he was hired by local businesses and residents to complete painting work, despite his criminal charges and impending jail time. I was protective and appalled to see a criminal in the homes of local residents and outside our beloved small-town businesses.
From my perspective, it was unjust and unfair. How could they trust Noah?
If you watch Vinh Giang, you too will be amazed. Not only will you witness some great magic, but you’ll also walk away with a valuable lesson about perspective. He’ll remind you that you think you know what you’re seeing.
While you are 100% sure of the facts formed by your vantage point and “solo mentality”, he will invite you to take a step back. Or behind. Or to the side. He’ll do the very same trick again, and you’ll see exactly how it is done. What you were once so sure about will completely shift.
From the new perspective, it all makes sense in a totally different way.
Had you been a passenger in Noah’s car when the police talked to him, you’d know that the real trouble was right under their noses. Had they opened his trunk or looked in his vehicle, they would have discovered the illegal drugs he was transporting around the midwest.
From this new perspective, we see biases, privilege in action, along with missed opportunities to bring Noah the help, accountability, and intervention he needed.
Unconditional love kept many friends and relatives who were hurt or grieved by Noah’s actions hoping for recovery and willing to risk helping him. Those that hired Noah weren’t careless or irresponsible, as I had assumed. They allowed Noah the dignity to work to pay off his debts to them that had been accrued over the years.
Through their trust and support, Noah was given the gift of seeing unconditional love in action. For a young soul dealing with deep insecurities, hopelessness, shame, and an uncertain future, these jobs and opportunities were transformative. Even now, he weeps as he recalls these moments of trust and grace.
From my new perspective, I’m so thankful he was given these chances.
Vinh Giang learned to always gather as many perspectives as he is able and then use those diverse views to help him see chaotic or troubling things more clearly. Learn to question, challenge, and stretch your own perspectives. Look for other possibilities, other truths. This is wisdom which benefits all of us.
“Never fall victim to a solo mentality, no matter what stage of life’s journey you’re on. Perspective is power.” ~ Vinh Giang
Kate Lundquist hosts a weekly podcast called Kate Had Me Meet and resides in Brooklyn Park, MN with her husband and six children.
Instagram: Kate Lundquist