A view from the other side of the tracks

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Stephanie LacyWatching the news in another country is a completely different experience. Despite the difference in language, I believe the main difference is how the news is perceived in the United States as opposed to that of other countries.

I have been blessed to travel a fair amount. As a result, I have a bit of a different view on politics and the news than a lot of people I come into contact with. Funny enough, even though I’m a journalist, or maybe as a result, I am very much aware of the bias that comes in the news through those that work in the media.

It’s a natural part of human nature to have biases. To be completely free of bias is almost an impossible feat. However, I think it is important to be able to recognize what our biases are in life, when possible.

In almost every country I have ever spent time in there is a certain amount of patriotism attached to the country. This is a very good thing. I love my country and am very proud to be an American. The problem comes when we are so biased by our pride for our country that we fail to see real issues that exist and may need changing. It is important that we are able to look outside of ourselves every once in a while and look at someone else’s point of view.

There are a few experiences in my life that stand out strongly when broaching this topic. One of them was when I lived in Israel for four months while on a study abroad. The Palestinian–Israeli conflict is not a new topic in our modern world. Before moving to Israel I had heard many different views on the conflict, most of them pro–Israel. Our country, as we well know, has a very strong tie to the Israeli government. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but upon moving there I already had a bias put into place as a result.

What surprised me, however, was how I learned to love both sides. While there I was able to spend some time in a Palestinian hospital, near the BYU–Jerusalem Center, that specializes in taking care of premature babies. While taking care of the babies, I had the opportunity to talk to some of the Palestinian women about their lives and how the conflict has affected them. I heard views from them about the conflict that I had never considered before. I was so influenced by the news that I had seen in the States that I hadn’t bothered to consider how it would look from the other side. There was goodness on both sides.

In this particular circumstance, I had let my first impression, and what I had heard from others, skew my view of the situation. I believe we all do this. It’s a natural part of life and is very prominent in the media.

While serving my mission in Ukraine, I came across a lot of people that were anti-American. Living in a country that was filled with poverty and an unstable government, many Ukrainian people have a different view on America than we have of ourselves. Although as a missionary I didn’t have access to much news, I was not able to avoid it completely, as I would hear about it from the people.

I was a bit shocked to see some of the policies that had been put into place by our government, affecting other countries. Not all of these policies were, in my opinion, in the best interest of the people. However, when I later mentioned this to my parents and friends back home, they were a bit surprised by my opinion. Having only been exposed to the American media, and not having spent a lot of time living how the other half of the world lives, some of those close to me could not understand the point of view I was expressing when I came home from my mission.

Experience changes people. While I had lived abroad before and seen many different situations and people, the experience of my mission changed my perspective like nothing else.

After living and seeing that kind of struggle and poverty, I was able to understand on some level why the people in Ukraine felt the way they did. Why their media coverage was so different from ours. This did not mean that what we were portraying was wrong, but in any country or situation we need to be careful not to let our biases cloud our vision so much that we can’t listen and try to understand someone from the other side of the tracks. The only way to make change is to first start with our perspective, and sometimes that takes looking at something through someone else’s point of view.

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