The Problem of Otherness

I believe the biggest problem in our society is Otherness.

It’s the mentality that other people are not like us, and we can disassociate what we do to them, and how we feel.

IMG_2846It happens in marriages too. I remember one morning was particularly stressful, showering scrubbing my hair and getting increasingly angry at my husband for all the things that were not getting done. I was pulling my weight! I was busy and stressed! I was going to tell him off!

As soon as I stepped out of the shower and his eyes met mine, I could see in him all that same stress and overwhelm. He was trying his hardest too. I cried and hugged him because he became instantly human again. Not the scapegoat of my frustration and self righteous indignation. His feelings were every bit as real and valid as mine.

This is our problem. From far away we see differences, division, otherness. Only up close do we see ourselves in others. Instead of allowing room for empathy, we build walls.

Part of it is self preservation – that pain is not ours to carry, and we have enough of our own so why should we help? Maybe it feels like too much to bear. Maybe we are audacious enough to believe we are immune to that same suffering because we are insulated by our money or where we live or our values.

Surely we, as “rightful” Americans, would never be faced with the separation families are going through at the border.

Surely I will not be faced with prejudice because I am straight and white. (As if it were a choice and not a lottery.)

Why should I worry about it happening to others?

I am safe and that is separate from me and mine and my life and my choices.

IMG_7592We should help because it is the right thing to do. We should help because God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We should help because as a parent, I can hardly stomach the thought of my own child being separated from me, even for a moment.

So often I am silent when it comes to politics – never wanting to offend. And as you can see from my last several blog posts, I keep it very light here. But this is not a political issue anymore. It’s a humanitarian one. The moment we began using a different set of standards for how it is acceptable to treat one group of people vs. another, it became so much larger than that.

And it feels wrong to stay silent.

So here I am, saying it. If you want to help, here are some resources.