I admit it. I’m totally obsessed with Robert Anderson’s Kaleidoscopes. My first encounter was in Scottsdale Arizona at the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. There it was, right at the entrance, a large atomic steel kaleidoscope with a colorful garden planter at its center. I was hooked. Looking through a garden kaleidoscope provides a stained-glass window version of the lush miniature garden.
Ordinary annuals like pansies and petunias take on a new charm under the gaze of the kaleidoscope—and with a simple twist, the view shifts, the colors change, and the image is entirely new. Same plants; multiple beautiful views.
Would it be too much to ask of ourselves to take a kaleidoscope approach to viewing others who we find difficult, abrasive or offensive? If we shift our view of what seems ordinary and objectionable, we may find something in the other we can appreciate, possibly even admire.
Our attitudes are shaped not as much by what we see but the lens we choose to see through. Do we assume positive intent when dealing with difficult people? Do we look for beauty in the ordinary, mundane interactions of the day? The lens we choose determines the view we see.
The cynic in me finds this approach entirely too sweet and passive to suggest we always look for common ground with those we find abusive and actively disinterested in promoting the common good. Yet promoting the common good rests on finding common ground. And finding common ground demands we come to understand in part how others define “common good.”
I’ll admit, I’m struggling here. Struggling in a political climate that polarizes and castigates “the other.” Twitter is like popcorn for me, with unlimited snarky, polarizing tweets to feast on. And yet…what twist would it take to change our dialogue?
Not too interested in pondering the political? Visit the MN Landscape Arboretum. They have installed several Robert Anderson garden kaleidoscopes. It’s a worthy view.