Personal Perspective Shapes Everything
The book, Social Geographies by Gill Valentine, is the ideology of how space and society affect each other. Valentine gives researchable data concerning how we as people relate to and interact with each other on a spatial basis. According to Valentine, this connection can exist in “natural” form or from a preset “social entity.”
What I found interesting and disturbing at times was how intentional the physical space (both body and place) was designed to affect not only an environment or mood of the moment, but actual lasting change. Valentine addresses this first in his chapter on the body: “the body is a surface which cultural values, morality and institutional regimes are inscribed.” This is fascinating to me, I’ve never really thought of it in those terms. How I treat my body and how I view my body communicates much about me culturally (where I am from), morally (what I believe), and socially (how I view others). As a minister, this is a very telegraphic way to “read” a person and or a people group. There is only one inherent danger with this view: my personal body perspective will shape and biasedly slant how I view and “read” others. This is what produces prejudice. That strikes the question: can anyone be prejudice free or is it inherent in our very DNA?
The second arena of physical space that produces lasting change is about “place”. Valentine defines “place” as the physical home, street, city, rural, and nation. From how a home design is gender and consumer based to how meanings are attached to the word “street.” The meaning of these areas is imbedded in a personal perspective and bias. I never gave this much thought, because I only viewed these terms from my safe suburban perspective. For instance, I grew up in a great safe home. So for me the idea of “home” is good, safe, welcoming, but for someone else, the same term could conger up thoughts of violence, hurt, and pain. Even the idea of the “city” being bad or “rural” being uneducated, or the “streets” being a place of social activism, I never really gave thought.
My point with all of this is that “my” personal perspective shapes everything. It shapes who I am and how I personally display my self (body) to the world. It shapes where I live, and how I live, and with whom I interact. It all comes down to me. In a world with a new social geography called social media, my perspectives can shape everything and everyone. The power of social geography has never been more powerful than today. This thought is powerful, because it affects not only me but to all whom I am called to minister. As I write this, I find myself overwhelmed with the power of this thought. It is very invigorating as an individual that although I am only one person, can make a difference. However, it is frightening because all those individuals that I am trying to serve have their own personal perspective that creates change or difference, positively or negatively. Which ideology will survive? What new developments will arise? Many questions, but one truth: personal perspective changes everything.