Imaginary barriers

Farmville Enterprise October 10, 2018

We each have a lens through which we filter how we perceive people and events around us. Our lens is shaped by the experiences we have had from the time we were little, behaviors we have seen modeled and what we have been taught. You probably have witnessed an interaction or event where someone standing or sitting right next to you had a completely different take on what just happened. No one can be completely objective. Some are better than others at limiting subjectivity. Still, we filter everything through our lens. This is part of being human. Siblings close in age, raised by the same parents and having lived under one roof can look back and tell entirely different impressions about the atmosphere in the home. It is said that there are two sides to any story. Accuracy often can be found somewhere in between.

Generally, our natural tendency is to find friends who view life through a similar lens. It is more comfortable to spend time around like-minded people.

Certain loud voices in our society are pressing us to separate into groups based on how we look or how we think. These voices often express a sentiment that if we look a certain way we should not cross the imaginary barrier in order to listen to or empathize with those on the other side. If our appearance is such then we should identify with and support those of a similar appearance. If our experience has been this then we should find commonality only with those who have had this kind of experience. It is tempting to paint people with a broad brush. The subtle message is, “If they think or look like this or were raised in a particular way, they must be bad.” The temptation is to ascribe negative motives to everything those other people do.

The truth is that there are so many people about whom we know little of what they might have gone through in the past or difficult times they might be facing currently. Their experiences might have led them to an entirely different perspective than ours. As Atticus Finch said in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” Regarding those both like and unlike ourselves we should ask, “How would I feel if I were the one in this situation? How would I react?”

The reality is that no person is all good and few are all bad. Most people show some kindness. Almost everyone loves and is loved, at least to a small extent.

Jesus had a very different message than some that we hear far too often in today’s culture. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:43-47)




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