The other night, my husband and I sat down after dinner to watch a little tv. When I turned it on, I was shocked to discover Fox News on the screen. My television — while it is “smart” — rarely acts on its own. My DVR doesn’t typically change its own channels unless it is programmed to do so. And I never watch or record anything on Fox News. So I couldn’t understand how that channel could be on the television.
I looked at my husband with concern and confusion, and he looked back at me with a very solemn expression on his face. He put a hand on my shoulder and spoke slowly and carefully.
“I guess I’m caught. So, I have a confession to make,” he explained. “Sometimes when you’re not home, I turn on Fox News to see what they are reporting.”
Seek the Counter Argument
When we stopped laughing, he explained that he felt it was important to hear the news that some of his co-workers, some of our family members, and a sizable portion of the United States population was consuming. He wanted to hear things from another side of the political spectrum. He was looking to understand a different perspective.
Although I’d never thought to watch that channel myself, it made perfect sense.
Over the past few years, I have also made a concerted effort to open my eyes/ears/mind/heart to different points of view. I’ve just chosen to do that through art and culture.
Consider a Different Perspective
Sometimes common ground conversations can be challenging to have, or to find, or to survive. And when I’m looking to understand perspectives different than my own, I don’t want to create emotional labor and make my education anyone else’s responsibility. So, I’ve turned toward artistic expression and cultural exhibits as a way to broaden my view of the world.
Education Through Film
With the massive box office success of “Black Panther” and“Crazy Rich Asians” last year, many a think piece appeared about the long-overdue appearance of non-white casts in mainstream American movies. The importance of representation and diversity (on and off screen) became a hot topic of conversation. While I saw (and thoroughly enjoyed) both of those films, each was its own type of fantasy, and neither helped me do the work, I was looking to do in that horizon-broadening department. Several films did though. One was Golden Globe winner, “Roma,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Another was the film adaptation of a James Baldwin novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” written for the screen and directed by Barry Jenkins. Each film deals with issues many wrestle with today despite being set in the past.
Education Through Literature
There is nothing that has allowed me to broaden my horizons better than reading. This year, I’ve decided to participate in a reading challenge that’s being hosted by a local book shop. The idea is to get participants reading genres and authors they might not regularly read! A few of the prompts included are a book written by an author from another country, a graphic novel, a book written by a woman of color, and a book by a debut author. I’m excited to branch out again this year. Are you looking for suggestions that might help you branch out too? Two books I’ve read that have widely broadened my horizons and influenced the way I see and experience the world are “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri and “The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race” edited by Jesmyn Ward.
Education Through Podcasts
I’m a podcast fan. I listen to a lot of them – like, a whole lot of them. My playlist includes daily news, audio fiction, true crime, interview podcasts, and even pop culture reporting and television recaps. It would be hard to narrow down only two recommendations that have broadened my horizons, but I’m up for hard work. Believe me when I tell you that episodes of NPR’s “Code Switch” have made me laugh, cry (this was super embarrassing because it happened on the bus and I still remember it), cringe, and think deeply about issues I’ve never considered before. Having just finished season one of “The Promise,” from Nashville Public Radio, I highly recommend giving it a listen before season two begins, also. Reporter Meribah Knight shares stories from a neighborhood in transition. While it centers around a Nashville community, similar stories can be found all across the country, making it relatable and thought-provoking.
Get Out of Your Bubble
While I’m looking to art and culture to broaden my horizons, that doesn’t happen strictly through passive consumption. Discovering and participating in cultural exhibits around my city, and finding new folks to follow on social media (who don’t look or think like me) can be ways to open my eyes to new opinions too. Different perspectives are out there! We just have to be bold enough to seek them.
While I’m not quite ready to watch Fox News as my husband does, I will continue to get out of my bubble. By consuming culture and listening to people who have different backgrounds or visions of the future than mine, I’m bettering myself. Engaging with diverse opinions and ideas can be uncomfortable and even scary, but it’s ultimately beneficial.