For some reason or another, I have been hearing a lot lately, from different sources, about race, ethnicity, and gender, etc. Topics and stories on the news radio I listen to, and in other places, have seemed to focus a great deal on these “differences” in people.
There was the story about race relations in the south, another story about same-sex marriages in Wisconsin, another about religious feuds in the Middle East and right here in America. One story I recently read that was ostensibly about the quality of education in the U.S. quickly devolved into a diatribe about the “class wars” between rich and poor and the “gulf between urban and rural cultures.” It goes without saying that all of the above were presented as either being considered supposedly “liberal” or “conservative” in viewpoint.
Needless to say, that kind of news and “pseudo-dialogue” predicated on an “us” versus “them” mentality was beginning to really bring me down.
I found myself reminded about what one saintly writer vaguely referred to as the “invisible boundaries” we erect in between ourselves and others. What Eric Fromm wrote about of “in-groups” and “out-groups” came to mind as well. Nonetheless, all of these supposed differences are more facade than reality ultimately.
Instead of focusing on what we think divides us, I began to think more about what it is that most essentially and divinely unites us. What is it that we can latch onto most in our limited world of senses that makes us realize that we are all, each of us, “perfectly imperfect spiritual creations of God?”
I’ve come to believe in life that the only way to look at anyone else we meet in this world is not through the judgmental, categorical, or observational lenses of race, sexuality, gender, religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation, etc., but to try, with God’s Help, to see each person as the only thing they truly are at the end of the day — a soul on a journey. That is truly what each of us really has in common.
I am starting to see how such an outlook is vital and primary in helping overly critical and judgmental people, like myself, see beyond our own misconceptions, misperceptions, stereotypes, and other ignorance-based prejudices. Perhaps, when we make the effort to see each other as fellow souls on this pilgrimage, with God’s Help, we will begin to see more of ourselves in others regardless of whatever adjectives may or may not apply to any of us.
Perhaps this would bring each of us a hair’s breadth closer to seeing one another the way Jesus sees us.
Does it really matter and does it really define who we are whether we are seen as rich or poor, black or white, Muslim or Christian, liberal or conservative, gay or straight, Asian or European? Are those the ways in which Jesus sees us? I do not profess to know for sure.
I do know that, in the Gospels, He seems more concerned about our souls than anything else about us; and I do know that Jesus said in John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
How do you think of and see others?
Nicely put.I like you struggle with being overly judgemental of others. From one pilgrim to another God Bless You.
A thoughful perspective.
When we think of all the violence that occurred in Ireland between the Catholics and the Protestants in past years we realize how easy it seems to be for people to become apart if one concentrates on the differences rather than the similaries.
If more people could take your view the world would be a much better place and religion could unite people instead of breaking them apart ala the Middle East.
I like this piece & really agree with your thoughts. Just think of how much more peaceful the world would be if we focused on what we had in common as opposed to what is different. How much less war there would be, better relationships at home, work, community. So much more potential in the world in looking at things this way. I am going to try to focus more on similarity than difference. I even noticed that in the new Pope, people seem to be focusing on what was bad about him, the election… God bless so similar beings, Jen