Together

While I was recently in Bangladesh, I had the fortunate privilege of being away from all social media, television and radio for over a week. I heard very little news about what was happening in the world, what crises were unfolding (there is always one these days), what standoffs there were between political parties, what hateful words were being spoken between otherwise loving people and what new tweet was being discussed around the water cooler.

Ahhh…peace! For just a moment, I could spend my energy simply enjoying the people I was with and laughing with them; smiling when I didn’t understand their language or they mine; marveling at the wonderful beauty around me and the colors that seemed without end. My worries were whether I could stay warm enough at night, if the bathrooms had toilet paper and what meat was that in our lunch. It was a relief…but short-lived.

Fairly soon, Wi-fi was found and news updates began uploading on my phone to tell me what was happening as I began my journey back to the USA and my stomach sank. Could such rhetoric really be part of my country? Could people really do such awful things to each other? Do we really hate one another so much that we see others as less than human?

What has happened to all of us…and I mean ALL of us that we have begun to tolerate, look for, accept as normal and discuss the absolute evil that exists around us as if we were discussing what was on the menu at our local diner? It only took one week away for me to see how numb to it we have all become.

While away, I finished reading a book by Brené Brown called, Braving the Wilderness that I would recommend to just about anyone who wants a perspective on where our culture has arrived. She has this to say about how we have begun treating each other, especially with the words we use: “There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.”

She goes on to say, “Dehumanizing and holding people accountable are mutually exclusive. Humiliation and dehumanizing are not accountability or social justice tools, they’re emotional off-loading at best, emotional self-indulgence at worst. And if our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet, that should include the politicians, media, and strangers on Twitter with whom we most violently disagree. When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate our own, and we betray our faith.”

For the first time, after reading these words, I began to see that no matter how “right” I believed myself or my opinion to be, I could no longer dehumanize ANYONE else with my words. It is a slippery slope. When we begin to see anyone as less than human by using a single word to describe them, it is very easy to then treat them as less than human, offer them less compassion, less care, less love.

Everything OPPOSITE of what Jesus asks us to do.

So, my hope for all of us, together, today, is that we start seeing the humanity in each other once again. We are not inanimate objects but real people with feelings and lives that hurt.

Revelation 7:9-10 says that people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, (will be) standing before the throne” and be too numerous to count. Imagine that sight!

I am thankful we won’t all look the same or speak the same language or come from the same place. It makes us all better. Together.