In the past couple of years I’ve noticed a change in who I interact with and how I interact with them. Before my accident I only hung around with people who were similar to me. All of my friends were white middle-class people from the same generation. Sure, I’d give a greeting to anyone I saw regardless of appearance, but I really didn’t pay attention to them unless they were of the same crowd.
After my accident I started noticing a change in the way other people looked at me. Suddenly I was being judged. People just assumed I was helpless. They assumed I was lazy. It felt really crappy and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Then the realization struck. This is what I had been doing to other people. I had been judging them in this same way my entire life. I had been the one patronizing. I had been the one ignoring. I had been the one acting all high and mighty.
Everyone has value. Many people don’t see this, and it is causing suffering. So many people feel alone and abandoned. They have lost their dignity. You don’t have to go far to see it. It starts right at home. Maybe it’s your grandmother who lives in a retirement home and you never visit. Maybe it’s the man who just moved here to escape the tyranny in his own country. You can walk out your door and someone is hurting. Whether you are poor or rich, white or black, gay or straight, man or woman, it doesn’t matter. You deserve to love and to be loved. That is God’s purpose for us. “For the entire law is fulfilled by one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14.
The reason our country and culture are in such shambles is that we don’t love each other anymore. We are so busy that we don’t even pay attention. We pull out our smartphones and the world disappears. Just think of how great our country could be if we simply showed love to the people around us. We don’t have to go on a mission trip to Africa to make a difference in the world. It starts right here at home.
Nowadays the crowd I interact with is much more diverse. I’ll go and have lunch with the homeless person. I’ll stop and talk to the foreigner who barely speaks english. I’ll listen to the old veteran tell his war stories. All of these people have lives that are interesting and eye opening. Though we are living amongst each other, sometimes the worlds we inhabit are vastly different. We can experience a variety of cultures without going anywhere. It is amazing to hear how other people think. These people are human and thus have dreams, hopes, fears, and aspirations. We are often too quick to pass judgment on them. If you had experienced everything they had throughout their lives would you be doing any better? Love starts right where you are.
William Joseph Scheremet