My generation of North Americans was raised by parents and grandparents who had lived through years of want and scarcity during the Great Depression, an experience that stayed in the collective consciousness for years to come. We were raised by fathers and mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers who spent time on bloody battlefields across the world and told us nothing of what they had experienced. Instead, they tried to guard us from that terror. They were afraid, and rightly so. And as the world opened up and became smaller, the world’s suffering came to our doorstep in technicolour, and we started to find out what we were so afraid of.
So what do we do when we are afraid? We protect ourselves. We reassure ourselves. And eventually, when the danger stops affecting us personally, we relax a bit, and pat ourselves on the back for doing such a great job at turning it around. Then we look at the dangers affecting others, and we believe that we are somehow superior because we have it all figured out. After all, we aren’t killing each other savagely. We aren’t experiencing civil war and displacement. No one is making us do anything we don’t want to do.
Well, I think we may have overstepped the truth of the matter. I think it’s time to take a second look because, for starters, racism, sexism, and bigotry are still alive and well in our western world. Our choice of leaders is questionable at best. We measure our worth by the house we live in, the clothes we wear, and size of our bank account.
Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Because, here’s the thing. There is no difference in worth between that displaced woman sitting in a camp across the world, and me, sitting in my warm house with my Christmas lights twinkling. I didn’t doing anything special to deserve my cushy life, just as she didn’t do anything terrible to deserve being homeless. I am fortunate. I am lucky. What I am not, is superior.
I know that judgement is deeply engrained in all of us, no matter where we are on this big blue ball. We judge what we don’t understand. What we can’t relate to. It is our defense mechanism. It is our reaction to fear. But I am going to work on dropping this judgement. Lead with love instead. Try to accept what I may never understand. Make it my new year’s resolution. It won’t be easy, but I believe it will be worth it.
Care to join me?