What do you see?

19 Aug 2015

What do you see when you see people?

A problem with living in a world filled with judgments and classifications is that we don’t always look at others in positive ways. We have a tendency to not only compare, but stereotype and make strong conclusions about others. We don’t always deal well with different and messy.

Most of us are socialized to have strong opinions about others. So it is often challenging to look upon others in the best light. We fail to see the Divine in them. We fail to celebrate the uniqueness.

I recently read this quote by the mystic, Thomas Merton from his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander:

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being [hu]man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now [that] I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this!”*

This reminds me of a similar experience I had; I could have written Merton’s piece myself one day while visiting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The night before I heard Landa Cope, a very interesting speaker, talked about the great variety of gender types based largely on when and how much they received of the hormone wash after conception.** Those who receive a lot of testosterone became males. Those who receive less, stay female (we all start out as girls).

But there are not just deep-voiced “’masculine” males and really-girly females; there is a whole variety types.* Male and female are not as strictly defined categories as we think. In fact, much of what we think about the genders are social constructs.

That message I’d heard the night before had a profound effect on me. For a time, I felt less compelled to criticize differences in others and rather see them as wonderful human beings. Walking about the large Malaysian city, seeing faces that were very different from where I live, I was truly filled with love for each one.

When you see others, what do you see? Do you see stereotypes, stuff that turns you off, yucky, and categories and look down on those who are too different or don’t meet your expectations? What bothers you? Race? Sexual orientation? Certain behaviors?

When we deal with our own “stuff,” we are then free to love ourselves and others.

What do you see when you see others? May your heart be filled with overwhelming, unconditional love. You don’t have to judge or fix. Love is your only job.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” – Ephesians 5:2

* Merton, Thomas. (1968). Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

** Cope, Landa. (2002). The Unveiled Image of God. Available from: https://vimeo.com/24252238

Roralty-free image by Shadman Ahmed; retrieved from: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/colorful-1234810



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