Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
Once again, I find myself witnessing acts of destruction and a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. It has been suggested to me that in some cultural situations, life is not held with the same regards that we in the western world do. Rather, there are societies that live in such a state of violence and continuous flux that they consider their own existence inconsequential.
Of course, all of us would say that no person deserves to die in a horrible bombing, the least deserving of all being the child whose life was snuffed out before it could truly reach fruition. We as a society say that. We sympathize for the injured and for the loss of the families who have been affected. Many of us will offer sincere prayers for the wronged parties long before we know their faces and their stories. And we ask the impossible question; “why?”
But is the question really impossible for us to answer? If we as a society stubbornly refuse to expand our world view, to look outside of ourselves beyond our individual hedonistic tendencies and appreciate one another for our commonality rather than resenting or even hating one-another for the perception of differences then yes, we will never understand why these acts occur.
Essentially, it is an easy thing to feel wronged. It is simple to resent those who have caused others harm. It is tempting to close ourselves to what is unknown, uncomfortable or unfamiliar in case it may be the cause of future violence of pain. However, it this very process of rejection that causes us to isolate ourselves from our fellow man. Rather than allowing ourselves to see others as fellow travelers on the journey of life, we see others as strange, foreign, and something other than what is comfortable for us to accept. I am not making excuses for terrorists by any means; merely suggesting that they regard our society, culture and way of life as something other than what they can deem acceptable, and in some situations, this rejection becomes extreme. This is when violence occurs.
I am sure that many of my readers are now justifying their belief systems to themselves and making a bold proclamation of acceptance. But are you truly willing to accept others as they are, even if they are culturally and religiously different from yourself?
How many of us who profess to be Christians continue to pass judgment on others? Though Christ, who is purported to be the needle for the moral compass of the faith clearly stated, “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.” Many among those who profess to follow the teachings of Christ use eclectic bits from scripture to justify hate or exclusion. They endorse separateness and rejection of those around them who seek different belief systems or life styles.
Do not misunderstand. I do not expect us as Americans or as Christians to embrace the cultures of other individuals around the world as our own, but I ask that we respect the traditions and belief systems of others as we would like our own practices to be regarded. We are the first to express indignation when our country, religion or practices are held in disregard by other nations or groups, yet we as a culture view these groups no more favorably than they regard us.
Even on a local level there is a strong tendency to reject those who are different from us. As a county can we afford to forget the grievous error that led parts of our nation to embrace owning our fellow human beings? Can we sweep away the wrongs we have done to the native peoples of our country with the self-justification of civilizing the land? Can we afford to forget the Japanese American citizens who were rounded up like criminals for their nationality during WWII? Yet what have we learned from these transgressions when we persist to cling to a notion of exclusivity? Of course, those wrongs are in the past, but even now groups must strive for equality, although it seems to be guaranteed by the foundation of our nation’s laws. In today’s world people are harmed because of the perception of who their culture or religion may lead them to be rather than who they are as an individual or as a fellow human being.
This brings me back to the basic question of why? We will never be able to stop or slow the presence of violent behavior while we practice a culture of exclusion. We will see ourselves as the only victims as we isolate and alienate the people and cultures around us, and around the world with the flawed premise that we are somehow the elite in our humanity and morality. We are not. We are as flawed and as cruel as those who seek to harm us. Yet we see our transgressions through rose-colored glasses. We will never understand the why until we can see ourselves and individuals and as a society clearly. The “why” does not justify the violence that has occurred, but it does allow us to understand that we are perceived by outsiders as our society sees them, as something other, soothing that cannot be trusted, something foreign.
If we, as the world’s people could accept one another as human beings, who deserve the respect and dignity befitting fellow man, then much of the violence in our world can be avoided. As long as we attach a stigma to others for race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or mental illness, we will never be able to see the dynamic we live in a clear fashion. We will never be able to deter a culture of hate and exclusion until we can erase these antiquated judgments of the surface value of others.
Truly, we all were born into this world from a woman. We all were helpless and innocent of the evils of the world. We all were nurtured in some way and educated either formally or through life experience. Somewhere along the line we lose track of this essential commonality and embrace a unique cultural identity. Cultural pride, piousness and patriotism are positive traits if we can learn to pair this ideal with a basic acceptance of our fellow human beings for who they are, not for whom we fear they may be or who we would like for them to become.
Don’t miss Sara B. Gauldin’s amazing books! Click HERE!
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