Different Shades of Grey

October 26 , 2019 . By Tsion Fisseha

It is never all about the matter of fact but the matter of one’s perspective. That is why the German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar Friedrich Nietzsche said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Back in my college years, I had the chance to travel to the beautiful and sunny Mombasa. Having visited there with my mom, we spent most of our time there doing all the stuff tourists do while in the land of the foreign. One of the things that spoke to me loud and clear was my mom’s reaction toward the attire of the ladies at the beach. She said to me, “What kind of clothing is this? Is there no shame left in this world?”

A fellow traveler followed this comment from my mom by saying, “Isn’t your mom melting? It's like 100 degrees,” pointing to the heavy cardigan my mom was rocking on the beautiful sunny day.

Perspective, which is a particular attitude toward regarding something, defines how one looks at the entire world. It defines what is scary, friendly or safe and secure, and determined by the way one is raised, by the movies one watches and songs one has heard. It is one of the hardest things to change, since it almost always has a deep and rock-hard foundation to something one holds dear.

In recent weeks we have had the chance to see just that. The Prime Minister recently released his book about unity just days after East African leaders and officials from home and outside the country inaugurated the park dedicated toward the same concept. And following this, whether the book has been read or not, whether the book has been reviewed or not and with little regard to the matter of fact, interpretations flew across the country and the continent.

While some people understood the concept of the book as an instrument that would bring the whole country together, still others, the same people who think that the Prime Minister did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, say this is just another way the premier is promoting himself for the entire world to see.

Even peace, the dream of every beauty pageant, has an entirely different meaning for whoever is looking at it or understanding it.

To this type of scenario, Shannon Alder says, “Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, 'What else could this mean?'”

This perspective is also experienced when one gets the chance to leave one’s country for various reasons, including work or pleasure. Gestures, language, priorities and even voice alterations change their definition because of the mere fact that the perspectives change among the different sets of individuals spread across the universe.

One might either be the villain or the saint depending on how one reacts toward a certain situation in a certain place and time.

While some of the differences in perspectives might be too small to be considered significant, others could be reasons enough to start wars that claim the lives of thousands if not millions. They take away the middle ground and set the world in pure black or white. However, I, for one, am a true admirer of the beauty in the different shades of grey.

Robertson Davies explains the understanding of each other’s perspectives thus:  “A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”

Perspectives not only differ but also change with time and place.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 26,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1017]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at tsion.f.terefe@gmail.com.

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