I can clearly recall a phrase that I’ve heard years ago in Porto Alegre, city of the World Social Forum. It was in Portuguese by Leonardo Boff and translates as something like:
A point of view is only a view from a point.
Different points of view are abundant in this world. Many of these points of view are shared in order to help us live together in community: they are raw material to what we call culture.
There are also times were a collective point of view ceases to be at service to our society and becomes the opposite, it becomes something that locks us into a narrow view of the world.
Reminds me of a great question that I’ve learned from Sandra Janoff e Marvin Weisbord (originally from Russell Ackoff Gregory Bateson) that helps me when looking at how we differentiate things:
Which are the differences that make a difference?
Differences that make a difference are the ones rich in diversity, differences that create unity by understanding and acknowledging what is different and allowing separation. Differences that don’t make a difference are only stereotypes. That also implies that when we “make a difference”, we are performing a contextual action.
I have seen that much of the work of a person who invites for learning is to pay attention to the context and ask this question of “which differences…” to himself.
Since my old friend Marge Schiller shared with me the video below, I’ve been using it when talking about conversational leadership and dialogic relations.
As learning hosts we can create and invite spaces where stereotypes, a result from us listening to the same old standard story, can be brought to perspective and new stories can be created. In the end, our collective is all about the stories we tell.