Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 11, 2013

A Better Vantage Point

A vantage is a place or position affording a good view of something. The best vantage points are found in places that are situated above the obstructions that tend to limit or diminish our line of sight. I love a good vantage point. There is just something about a clear and unobstructed view that beckons me to come and see for myself.

Top of the World 2
On my recent visit to Petra, my friends and I rode donkeys to El-Deir, the monastery carved into the rose-colored sandstone hills at Petra’s highest point. Just a short walk from the monastery is a hand-painted sign that beckoned us to go higher — to the “Top of the World,” an opportunity that we could not pass by.

Top of the World 3
I know that the top of the world is not located at Petra or anywhere near Petra. But, for the people who once lived at this ancient site, the peak just beyond the monastery was, for them, the top of the world. From there they could easily survey all of the surrounding territory. The view is indeed quite beautiful and worth the climb.

There is something in us that wants to know what things look like from high up or deep down or the other side — in other words, from a different vantage point. Centuries before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei wondered, “If you could see the earth illuminated when you were in a place as dark as night, it would look more splendid than the moon.” He was right.

Earth from Moon
Looking back at Earth from the moon, Neil Armstong said, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman observed, “[The Moon] was a sobering sight, but it didn’t have the impact on me, at least, as the view of the Earth did.”

That is what a good vantage point can do for us. It can give us much-needed context for better understanding ourselves and the world we live in. It can also give us the kind of perspective that can motivate us to find solutions. When you look back at our tiny blue planet from the moon you cannot see the things that divide us, only what we have in common — that we all live on a small planet suspended in space and we are all very, very small.

It was by looking up into the heavens that David, the king of Israel, gained insight into the value of human life. He recorded his observations in Psalm 8. Although he felt microscopic against the backdrop of the macroscopic, he nevertheless concluded that we are more valuable to God than the planets. And he was right. Although we are small, we are valuable in God’s sight.

I wish we could all go into space and look back at the planet we all call home. Maybe then we might realize that while our little planet may look more splendid than the moon, we are certainly more prized to God than the planets. And maybe then we would put a higher value on life and work harder to find solutions to the things that separate us. It all starts with finding a better vantage point.


Responses

  1. I enjoyed this. Great post!

  2. A good vantage point… that’s all we need. Such truth to that… thank you!

    • A good and often a different vantage point can indeed make a huge difference in the way we see others and the world around us. Keep looking for new vantage points.


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