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The Others

March 7, 2016

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  (1 John 4:20)

“The Sneetches got really quite smart on that day. The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches. And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the    beaches. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.”  (Dr. Seuss)

 

Jesus and Dr. Seuss, man.  They knew what was up.  They recognized that the majority of awful things humans do to each other stems from a sense of otherness.  (That is not a real word, don’t bother looking it up.  It’s my page and I can invent words if I want to.)

When we view our fellow humans as equal, when we see them as children of God, it makes it a lot harder to do things like enslave them.  It makes it tough to feel superior to them.  And it really puts a damper on hating them.
On the flip side, when we set ourselves apart from others because of our religion, our skin color, our bank accounts, our national origin…we begin to convince ourselves that The Others are a threat to us and our beliefs.  We start to think of them as something less than human, something different enough to be dangerous.
And that, my friends, is happening right now, right here.  There are leaders and people in positions of influence whose sole focus seems to be otherness.  They use words like “us” and “them” a lot.  They promote a sense of belonging with their followers; they offer an opportunity for those who feel adrift and scared to anchor themselves to a group of like-minded folks.  They promise safety and security by “protecting” their followers from the ones they claim are a threat.
But it’s a false promise.  These leaders are manipulative and weak.  The ground beneath them is shifting sand, so they build a platform of fear and invite their followers to climb aboard.  They invent an enemy so they can play rescuing hero to those who believe their fear-mongering.
“Gays are a threat to the sanctity of marriage!  Climb aboard!”
“Muslims are trying to overthrow Christianity!  Climb aboard!”
“‘Foreigners’ are taking over our country!  Climb aboard!”
And the ones who believe them clamber up, relieved at being saved.  Up on the platform, they feel safe.  They feel heard.  They feel a sense of superiority.  It’s intoxicating.
The only problem?  The Others are human.  Underneath it all, the followers, the leaders, the others…they’re exactly the same.  The Christ so many of these leaders and followers claim to believe in told us so.  Dr. Seuss backed him up.
History gives us so many horrific examples of what happens when we lose sight of our humanity and allow otherness to rule.  When we stop seeing others as fellow children of God, when we give judgment and fear and hate the upper hand, we lose a part of our own humanity.  We start to think it’s acceptable to treat others as if they were inferior.  We invite fear to drive our bus.  And fear is a terrible driver.
What if, for a moment, we saw our fellow humans through Jesus’ eyes?  Would we be so quick to judge?  Would we fear those who are different?  Or would we, instead, embrace them?  Would we look for what we have in common instead of what divides us?
I can only hope that the United States wakes up before it’s too late.  That the people of this great nation remember what made our country a superpower.  That we recognize we were founded on religious freedom and that most of us are the offspring of immigrants.  Diversity is not the enemy; hate is.  Fear born from ignorance is.  We are better than this, America.  This land is your land, this land is my land.
Home of the brave, or home of the blind?  The world is watching.

 

 

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