A friend and I were watching the South Carolina Democratic primary results tonight and, although we were viewing the same person speaking, we often saw two very different things. And later, when the talking heads came on CNN, they saw something even different than either of us saw. Or more accurately, we focused on different aspects and came to very different conclusions. Like a giant Rorschach test.

I have another friend who can’t stand the candidates I like most, and she gets really pissed off at things they do and say. She can even see things to hate in what to me seems like a good speech. Whereas I may look at the very same words and actions and, even if I don’t agree with everything, I still see a whole person I can feel good about. But to her, they seem so obviously bad she gets frustrated that I can’t see it as clearly as she does. As for my friend’s preferred candidate, who seems so unpresidential to me, to her he is a knight in shining armor.

Yet we’re watching the very same debates and interviews, and both have a basic a understanding of history and politics.

And so far I’m just talking about one party, with candidates with pretty much the same basic beliefs. Now switch to people in another party and multiply the Rorschach effects tenfold. I see strength. They see power-hungry. I see compassion. They see spendthrift. I see courage. They see naiveté. I see blowhard. They see leader. I see scary. They see hope.

How can we ever come together when we aren’t even seeing the same things?

Got any ideas? I have some thoughts, of course, but would very much like to hear and understand your thoughts on this. To me, that’s the first step toward any real change.