Greg Rolfe

1 year ago · 2 min. reading time · ~100 ·

Greg blog
The forest or the trees

The forest or the trees

The old adage that “we can't see the forest for the trees” is often true, but what is to say we don't need to see both? Are there not times that we need to see both the big picture and the small? Do we not need both perspectives to accurately understand what we are looking at? The world is a very complex assembly of ideas and actions. If we attempt to boil it all down to simple, we miss nuance and entire relationships, but on the other hand, if we fail to attempt to simplify it enough so that we can grasp the flow, we again have no understanding of what we are seeing. 

The true issues I see often are that we fall into one group or the other and actually forget to review the other perspective. I do not believe that it is due to a desire to deceive but more actually due to our personal tendencies. We have our own way of looking at things and these lead us to generalize or perhaps to oversimplify not out of again a desire to deceive but simply due to the way we look at things. 

The real question is are we willing to look at things from the perspective of another? Am I willing to set aside my bias and attempt to see the picture from the relative perspective of someone else and not someone I generally agree with? It is much harder than you might think as inbuilt bias guides and controls our thinking. 

I am not saying we need to agree with the opposition I am suggesting that we attempt to understand the position of the opposition in an attempt to see the entire issue. Limiting our view of the picture reduces our ability to grasp the entire issue. While a forest is built of many trees, it is also built of a variety of trees. So if we only see one type of tree from where we stand we might mistakenly believe there is only one reality. But looking at the forest we might notice that the complexity is due to the variety of trees and how they are mixed. Both perspectives are needed to understand the puzzle.

The true value found in discussion is finding the points of truth in both perspectives. Reaching out for understanding not only proving my point. Yes, I might still believe I am correct but perhaps I might also see that those I disagree with have some validity in their argument if I am willing to discuss instead of simply argue. 

Are you willing to look at the forest and the trees? It takes work but these are times for honest people to put in the effort and reach.





Greg Rolfe

1 year ago #5

Greg Rolfe

1 year ago #4

Greg Rolfe

1 year ago #3

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #2

The first stage, Greg, in what equates to broadening our attitudes, is to be aware and accepting of our own biases. As one who had a rude awakening on this a few years ago, I know first hand that we nay not be as liberal as we believe we are. You’ll see what I mean in this post I wrote back then. 

Pascal Derrien

1 year ago #1

Very timely reminder in this highly polarized world I have  a post in the works along the same lines probably not as good though :-) 

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