Finding Ourselves in Others

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

We’ve all said this at some point in our lives. If you haven’t yet, good for you!  Try to avoid it.  I’ve come to think of it as a cop-out proclaimed by those who have grown weary of caring, problem-solving and compromise; the vey essence of good relationships!

I’ve used it jokingly in situations that have deteriorated from deep discussions into “us vs. them” debates.  In our nation’s deteriorating climate of intolerance, hate, fear, and finger-pointing merely “getting along” seems so unattainable.  We’re too obsessed with being right.  And yet, I still believe we can find the middle ground of a caring community, a caring nation, a more caring world.

I have to believe.  What’s the alternative?  No hope?  That’s not an option!

I think the solution is simply trying to find ourselves in others.

As a Catholic I’ve been raised on the phrase “find Jesus in the eyes of others,” and I have found that a bit challenging in many cases.  But when I try to see something of myself in another, then it becomes easier to love them and find a way to be respectful and caring.  When that happens, I have found that the other person responds to me in kind.

Last Thursday’s testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee offers us all yet another opportunity to find ourselves in the many people in that room.  It’s easy to identify with those who share our personal opinions.  We can easily agree with the people in the room who share our political leanings or with those who look like us.  The challenge then is to find oneself in someone we might immediately dismiss as (fill in the blank:  ________________).  Consider, though, the truth that when we dismiss a person and label them, we give ourselves permission to be unkind, unfair, and disrespectful.  It now becomes acceptable to violate another person’s dignity and to treat them as less than human.  History has certainly seen this model before, and it continues to be used in many parts of the world today.

The emotional and political temperature of this nation is off the charts.  Everywhere I turn there are people choosing sides and finding clever ways to prove that they have the correct opinion, perspective, or solution to the problem.  This is not helpful, and, “NO!” you can’t dismiss me simply by calling me naïve!

Personally, I believe Dr. Ford, and if you do, too, then great.  If you don’t believe her, then that’s ok, too.  Thankfully I am one of the lucky ones to have never experienced sexual violence, but I know several who have.  Given the statistic of “1 in 6 women” I’m sure I know more than I realize.  You must know some victims, too.  Ask them what they think.  Their insight might surprise you and move you out of your comfort zone.

But, this post is not meant to persuade anyone to choose a side, or change your opinion.  Our world does not need more division.  It is meant to open your heart to another way.  It is my hope that we will all find the courage and humility to find something of ourselves in the eyes of another, and find a more compassionate way toward justice, healing, and a more loving world.