Eric Conrad, the vice president of Operations, taught students to broaden their perspective in every aspect of life and avoid making snap judgments during his Feb. 27 devotional.
“Judge actions sparingly if you feel compelled to judge at all. Please keep in mind that the word ‘perspective’ has a Latin root meaning ‘look through’ or ‘perceive,’ and all the meanings of perspective have something to do with looking,” Conrad said.
Clarissa Johnson, a sophomore from Nevada studying TESOL, said, “People think their perspective is right and they forget that the definition of perspective is that it’s different. When people act a certain way, they do it because of the experiences they’ve had in their lives.”
“We can flip through hundreds of channels on TV and find nothing of interest. As we do so, we’re making judgements in seconds about various shows. Beginning at a younger and younger age, minds are being trained to review information quickly and make instant judgement calls,” Conrad said.
Conrad brought the topic of judgment to the audience’s attention by asking the students to pull out their phones. As they did, he promptly said, “I would like you to send a text to someone you have not communicated with in a while. Take this time to send an uplifting note. … Just remember to keep it short.”
Jaycie Reed, a freshman from the Marshall Islands majoring in elementary education, shared her experience texting an old friend. She said, “It was humbling.” Admitting she had ceased to act on other opportunities, Reed said, “I need to be a little more courageous and get out there a little and do that more often because I don’t think anything bad can happen from that.”
Conrad explained his activity, “You are not going to stop making quick judgements, but with a broader perspective via additional information you may judge differently or take time before judging things altogether.”
To demonstrate, Conrad showed a series of optical illusions that showed different images depending on where the audience was sitting. He said, “What do these pictures tell us? They tell us that all of you can see the same exact picture and have a very different perspective.
“Your job is to understand the perspective of people around you, to know them, to gain knowledge of where they are coming from before you make any judgement.” He shared a picture of his family to the audience and said, “[This] is my wife, our seven kids and three grandkids. I like to think that we are the basic LDS model of a happy family.” Conrad silently changed the slide to a picture of two gravestones: his former wife and Sister Conrad’s former husband.
“It was powerful to see the two gravestones; all those kids have lost one of their parents,” Johnson said. “You look at people, and you don’t know what they’re going through. You just see their surface. If you understand people's’ trials, you understand how they act and who they are.”
Max Ortill, a freshman from Colorado majoring in biology, said, “I’ll apply this message in my life by trying to keep that perspective of knowing that everybody is going through different things. I may see something physically or superficially, and I don’t really realize what’s going on deep down. If we have a better perspective of who Christ is and what he did, we’ll be able to treat others better and become better.”
Reed, with tears in her eyes, said she thinks one way to keep a Christ-centered perspective “is just being open and knowing that everyone is going through something different.”
Asking the students to pull out their phones one last time, Conrad said, “Tell them something from your perspective that they may not see, hear, feel or even know about–how you are and how you feel about them.”
Having texted an old mission companion, Ortill recognized the blessing of doing so for both he and the companion. “It helped me because it made me think about others and realize I should check up on them. It helped him because it’s nice to know that someone is thinking of you,” he said.
Johnson added, “[People] come from this background and that’s why they see the world in this certain way. And if we don’t understand how they see the world, then we don’t understand their perspective and sometimes we can be quick to judge.”
Reed said, “I think that judgement is something that everyone needs to work on, and he brought it to our attention in a great way. I really felt the Spirit.”
Johnson learned, “Just try to love people and see where they’re coming from, and then it will be easier to love them. It’s like a cycle. You understand them so you love them more, and you love them more so you get to understand them.”
Conrad concluded, “For the perspective we see in the blink of an eye is not ever the whole story and rarely captures the broadest strokes of anyone’s existence.”