The Same Thing

12 05 2008

I was at a conference last week and one speaker threw out an image that kinda crashed a couple of worlds together for me and, really, made me want to, I don’t know…stand up and yell in that letter to the editor way.

The speaker spoke of a speech, a canned speech, that he gives on the conference tour. What it was about isn’t important, but here’s what he did: He sent a copy of the speech (or talk, what have you) to two organizations, one on the east coast, one in the midwest. All things being equal, he said, the two organizations were equivalents in their ways of thinking and doing, just in two distinct areas of the country. The speech had no title on the speaker’s end, and he invited each organization to title the talk whatever they felt it said to their group.

One group put a lovely, springtime photograph of flowers at the peak of their bloom at the top of their poster and called the talk “A New Beginning”. The other had a stark silhouette collage of a building teetering on the edge of a cliff, and called it “On the Brink”.

Flowers: Midwest. Teetering: East Coast.

What struck me though, was the simplicity of the lack of context given, and this speaks to nearly every difference we have with each other, and how stubborn we can be in not seeing the other side.

To me, a flower in bloom and a building teetering on the edge are the same thing at the same moment: each is at the climax of its existence. In another second or minute or day, the bloom will fall off and the building will topple. What’s the difference? One’s pretty and the other isn’t? Same thing.