Friday, April 19, 2013

Finding "We."

"In some places, they have no water!"

 "Why do they act like that?"

"They're ruining the environment."

"How could they do that?"

"They are from(somewhere else)!"

"They're soooo loud!"

"They are (different religion)!"

I, like all Americans, had a difficult week  this week. After all, someone bombed the Boston Marathon. A plant blew up in Texas, killing many. There were gun battles in the streets of Boston. At least one police officer was murdered. The entire city of Boston was "locked down." It was a challenging week.

This morning I went to swim at my local Y, as usual. Other than being hyper-aware of every (seemingly frequent) emergency siren, I was pretty much in my normal routine. When I got to the locker room, though, there was a very loud and boisterous group of teenagers preparing to swim. I was mildly irritated, but not offended. I knew the language they were speaking and recognized them to be a relatively recent immigrant group to our city. Another frequent swimmer and I exchanged a look, but neither of us said anything. I went down to the pool and swam my laps...

And thought...

About Boston.
About the swimmers.
About the world.
About me.

About how I was thinking, using they to separate myself from some of God's created people. I realized that we humans do this all the time. It relieves us of blame, of connection, of responsibility...

So, how does "we" apply to the world's problems, to tragedies in Boston, Texas, and elsewhere? How can I use "we" in connection with terrorists and immigrants? If we expand our thinking until they and I are all part of the same we, does that help?

As in: We don't have enough clean water. That changes a lot! In the Midwest, where underground aquifers are plentiful and clean, water is abundant. If I lump myself in with the African village where drinking water can be a death sentence, I, too, am in crisis. If I think globally, there is a water shortage. Does that change my behavior in the plentifully-watered Midwest?

As in: Why do we act like that? Why do people act selfishly? Isn't it just as self-centered of me to think that all people should conform to my expectations in a locker room as it is of the teenaged immigrants to think that their loudness and boisterousness is "normal?" When has it been that my behavior has made someone else uncomfortable? Did I care? Was I even aware?

As in: How could we do that? How could we, as a society, be so non-inclusive that even after a decade in our midst, two young men were estranged enough to set bombs off in a crowd?

Now, don't get me wrong: I do NOT accept responsibility for the choices made by others, but still... it makes me think about the choices I do make: How I see things. How I interact with "them."

And of how Jesus would have me interact with "them." Jesus didn't separate himself from the unclean, the ill, the poor. He didn't keep himself "pure" by avoiding contact; in fact, He sought them out.

He sought them out.

 Do I?  Do you? To steal a cliche: What would Jesus do?

"What God Has Joined" is one of my favorite pieces; I created it for my husband as a wedding gift. I "tricked" him into letting me trace his hand by saying it was for a project at school. I love how our hands are reaching together for the cross.

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