I’m going to borrow an illustration I heard John Bevere use once (which he probably borrowed from someone else — there is, after all, nothing new under the sun, is there?). I’ll be paraphrasing, of course 🙂
Have you ever watched a particularly poignant, well-crafted movie? One that methodically and artfully sets you up with an hour and fifteen minutes of pathos for that one heart-wrenching moment at the plot’s climactic moment? When that moment comes, your eyes start welling up, your breathing becomes a little shallower, you move to the edge of your seat — you feel the strong empathetic connection to the characters in the movie. You almost can’t help it. Unless you’re a sociopath — c’mon, would it kill you to show a little human emotion now and then… dad…?
Just kidding, my dad’s great. Anyway, imagine your roommate walking in right when the big climactic moment occurs — he’s never seen the movie before, and so he’s missed out on all the exposition and buildup. He looks at the characters on the screen, looks over to you bawling your eyes out on the couch (mostly obscured by your tissue-box fort), and scoffs, “What’s with you? It’s just a stupid movie.”
First of all, your roommate’s kind of a jerk and you should probably consider moving. (Then again, he does pay the rent on time, and his mom is friends with your boss… I guess he’s not all that bad.) But, really, the illustrative detail is the difference in how the two of you view the movie in that moment: You have been taken on this hour-long journey preparing you for this scene; you connect with the characters, their stories touch you, you empathize with their plight and take on some of their pain upon yourself; your roommate, on the other hand, couldn’t give two figs about the characters, doesn’t connect with the moment, isn’t compelled in the least by the scene unfolding on the screen. Why? Because he’s missing the context of the scene. (more…)