In today’s world we are fighting wars against our fellow man. We are passing laws to ban freedom of religion and people’s rights to choose. We treat the person next to us as a stranger and then condemn them for their differences.
We are not strangers. We are all people and we relate to the human experience with different filters but still the same values are consistent throughout most of human kind. We all love, we all search for community, we all want basic rights and we all see murder as the ultimate crime. So how is it that we can stare at person of another color, religion or lower financial status and say they are different?
Most would agree that they are making judgments based on past experiences of these people. But think for a second if you were experiencing life as the person you were passing judgment against. Would it be so easy to say that a poor beggar is a foolish drunk if you fell on hard times? Could you say a person of another color was ignorant if you grew up in an area of limited diversity? We are so quick to judge without seeing that we are also being ignorant of how another person could come to a similar conclusions about us.
A way I’d suggest to balance this ignorance is by sharing. Sharing your story, share your feelings, pour out your knowledge onto a complete stranger and then ask them to return the favor.
The reason we can judge and be so uncharitable to another human is because we think they are so different from us. But if we saw each person as someone that could have had the same life as us if things were different then we would be more likely to help them out. I’m not suggesting you look for the person the most opposite from you and try and befriend them. But maybe you talk to the person sitting next to you on the bus and find out what they do.
I was just at the laundromat and I got in a conversation with a woman for nearly half an hour about the budget cut to schools and she mentioned she knew a young girl that does not have legs in her home town back in Maine and rides on a skateboard just like me. I gave the woman my website url and told her to have the girl contact me. On the outside there was nothing that tied me to this woman. She only talked to me because I was folding my daughter’s clothes and she mentioned how she wished for a granddaughter. But by the end we made a small connection and I hope that she passes my info on to this girl furthering our connection. And maybe the only thing this girl and I have in common is being born without legs but that may be enough to form a new friendship.
The more open we are and the more we treat people as family the closer we can become to really getting to understand our own lives. We see the broad spectrum of life and we no longer fear what is different. Instead we go in search of these differences and upon each new discovery we no longer see ourselves as a single person and begin seeing us all as leaves of a single tree all connected to the same roots. All being nurtured from the same air, water and soil. And even though we may never see the other side of the tree our experience is shared and our individual success depends on the succes of everyone.