How Big Is Your Picture? [Scope]

Today let's talk about scope.

I was tickled/annoyed the other day by a woman calling in from an AIDS research society who was unaware that there were style standards for writing scholarly papers.  Oy, vey.  I thought to myself, there is NO way she got through school without learning that!  And I have quite a bit of evidence that this is the case.

As I sat back and marveled at her seeming ignorance, I of course began to recognize that there were many, many reasons why despite having this drilled into her skull, this person with a PhD was oblivious to the concept of standardized writing style.  She was simply coming at the question of writing a paper from a different perspective, and it was outside the scope of my job to consider hers as a valid way of being.

At that point, this realization blossomed into a much larger self-discussion about how important the breadth of our ideas is to the way we go about life.  Sometimes, like me in this case, we're caught with our pants down and with very little at our disposal to explain why our perspective is so limited.  This is the case with many people without extensive education or experience, but is just as easily applied to people who live such sheltered lives they forget the vast expanse of ideas and possibilities that exists in our world.

Similarly, there are people who wake up and say "oh shit, the world is ending!" because their perspective has been widened too much too quickly.  Both of these ways of being are relatively ineffective when we go about enacting change.  In fact, I posit that all unsuccessful attempts at change result from issues with the scope of the attempt's perspective.

I'm not going to provide any examples today, but only because I want this to be #1 in a longer series on scope and the ways in which we are manipulated by it.

Note:  I've been sitting on this post for awhile, trying to flesh it out.  I'm publishing it as a fragment now to elicit reactions and in the hopes of returning with a slightly different perspective later today.  Stay tuned.


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A blog about social change, written from Brooklyn, New York. Currently looking for contributors.