Paul Krassner is one of the many writers who sent James Harmon a letter for his book Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People who Know a Thing or Two. In his letter Kressner wrote about our perception of other people, and our perception of the world. In his last paragraph he wrote, “Always remember that everybody’s perception is their reality.” This speaks to me because it is so easy for us to judge someone else and their actions from our point of view. When we look at others this way, we are not taking the time to step into their shoes or make an effort to understand their lives. We cannot criticize another person for the decisions they make if we do not understand the pressures and realities in that persons life. Each person’s unique history and experiences may have driven them to make specific decisions
Near the beginning of his letter Krassner writes,”Watch yourself as though you were observing a Martian. Watch others as though they were also Martians under observation.” What Krassner is advocating for is the ability to look at a situation objectively. For him it is important that we are aware of how we live and what we do, but also aware of the way that others live. If we are able to build this awareness without ascribing every action or choice that a person makes as good or bad, then we can start to have greater control of our decisions and actions. In addition, when we view people as if they were Martians, we do not bring our previous biases into the situation to create a background story about the person, (think of how easy it is to see a lawyer in a suit and decide he is a jerk before you watch him do anything) and instead we simply observe their behavior. To me, this is a great way to begin to reflect on the choices we make to live an intentional life.