I went part of the way down the rabbit hole of the American Civil War by chance on YouTube. Author and historian Susan Provost Beller gave an almost one-hour lecture about soldiering during that war. The 2002 talk was to a classroom full of elementary school pupils at Charlotte Central School in Charlotte, Vermont, so her delivery was easy to comprehend.
Part way through the lecture I remembered an old television series called “The Rebel–Johnny Yuma” that aired on ABC-TV from 1959 to 1961. It starred Nick Adams as the young Confederate Army veteran. I had very few memories of the television show aside from its setting in post Civil War as a western, cowboys and Indians type of show. So, I did a YouTube search for it after the Beller interview had ended. I found the premier episode:
The episode was unfamiliar because it had originally aired in 1959 when I was a first grade pupil. I can only pose a wild guess as to why I remembered the name of the show. Perhaps dad watched it and tidbits of the show settled into my subconscious while I was in the same room as him?
In the premier episode, Dan Blocker guest-starred as the villain. It was interesting seeing him play a different role than that of Hoss Cartwright in the “Bonanza” television series. The attitude of the actors in the show was markedly different than what Beller had discussed in her lecture about Civil War soldiers.
I pondered the difference in perspectives between a mid-20th century television producer and that of a war historian/lecturer in the early 21st century. I then thought about the various facts I was taught about the Civil War and the Post Civil War eras in school along with what was presented in various books borrowed from the public library about these subjects. I’ve taken in various viewpoints from Mark Twain to Shelby Foote. Now there is Susan Provost Beller to add to my must-read bucket list.
It’s mind expanding to pause and consider our own opinions and perspectives of various topics and situations–not just those that relate to the American Civil War. We have busy lives that are full of duties and tasks. We consume various media from print to Internet. Our minds race with categorizing the data we consume and the impressions we form and morph into our individual points of view. These opinions and beliefs solidify in our minds. We become attached to these concepts as personal truths. We forget that we formulate our beliefs based upon our personal impressions of what we are taught and observe.
When we analyze how we observe through our individual filters, we can realize alternative opinions and beliefs. As we attempt to be more objective we may stumble upon realizations and breakthroughs that help us understand life from different angles. We may even be open to making drastic changes in our beliefs and mindsets.
We are given the opportunity to analyze our mental concepts and release those that hinder or no longer serve us in productive ways. When viewed from different perspectives we are open to embracing previously hidden opportunities. There might even be an epiphany or two. This might signal a time to put things “on hold” for awhile while re-evaluating and assessing our life paths.
Sometimes a new perspective evolves after seeing something unfamiliar on the Internet. Perhaps during a meditation session or taking in some quiet time in nature. If you’ve ever traveled to an unfamiliar city or country, you noticed a paradigm shift in your thinking. Shifts in points of view often enable personal growth and the expansion of empathy in our minds.
It is time to pause for awhile and at least contemplate some different perspectives as to how we experience the world.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the late child psychologist, Stella Chess. “Young people of high school age can actually feel themselves changing. Progress is almost tangible. It’s exciting. It stimulates more progress. Nevertheless, growth is not constant and smooth. Erik Erikson quotes an aphorism to describe the formless forming of it. ‘I ain’t what I ought to be. I ain’t what I’m going to be, but I’m not what I was.'”