For much of my life I’ve seen myself as “other”. I’ve defined myself not by what I am, i.e. my talents, my idiosyncrasies, or my shortcomings, but by how I compare with you. Frankly, that has turned out very negative for myself as well as for you.
Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, addressing today’s very serious problem of Altruistic Evil in his book “Not in God’s Name” writes about the problem of “other”. He calls it sibling rivalry. He gives us an alternative to this by convincingly arguing, for this reader at least, against dualistic thinking in favor of seeing how we are alike. “…we are each blessed by God, each precious in his sight, each with our role in his story…” (p 893)
Alex Llanera an intern for Homeboy Industries in the Jesuit Post “Fine by Me? The Grace of a Traffic Ticket” gives us a good example of how to move from “otherness” to “likeness”. He tells an attention-grabbing story of how a homeless, undocumented, 24 year old Latino interrupted his packed-filled day’s agenda and brought home the lesson of how he moved from client/intern to “just two guys” to friends. Alex learns how the young man deals with the pain and anger in his life. He also learns how the young man’s demeanor wins over the traffic court clerk and is not only relieved of paying for the ticket, but gets a big hug as well.
This week I’m going to work at being a friend by:
- Stopping to listen – When the homeless person on the street asks for a handout, I’m going to say yes, but only after you tell me a little about you first.
- Ask for advice – Instead of always offering my opinion, I will first ask someone who says something I immediately disagree with to help me understand.
- Smile more – Smile at people as I pass them on the street whishing them a “Good day!”.
Want to join me?