What if the things you know and the things you have always held to be true were things you had never been taught. What if you had a different life? The building blocks of your past were not put together the way they are today. Would you be the same person you are now?
It is so easy to look at another person and judge them. We do it all the time without even thinking about it. I think it is something we have to do in a way. Even in our cushy, easy life, we still have to judge people and situations to be safe from danger and possible pain or disappointment. “Do I sit by this person, do I take the chair facing the room or the window, do I get in line behind the man with the Mohawk?” Every day we are making judgments on people due to how they look, what they wear, or even whom they are with.
How crazy would it be to make those judgments without any of the beliefs and teachings we have been programmed with our whole life? What would it be like to really step into another person’s shoes and see life the way they see it?
I can’t help but think back to a couple of examples from college. I was in a children’s literature class and it was group project day. The group that was presenting on this particular day had been assigned Jewish literature. They had gotten to class early and rearranged the tables into a U shape with the bottom of the U at the front of the class. The members of the group greeted each student as we arrived to class. They directed us to a seat and gave a few of us a special ‘badge’ to wear. Those of us with the ‘badge’ were to sit together on the far side of the room. I was ‘lucky’ enough to get a badge. I followed the directions and sat at the far side of the room with the other badge wearers. The presentation included a PowerPoint and some stories and even a handout. The Holocaust has always been such a heart-breaking topic for me. I thought they did a good job of sharing the horror without being overly graphic. All in all, I enjoyed the presentation. It was a bit harder to see from my seat at the far side of the room but I honestly didn’t give it a thought until the end of the class when one of the members of the presenting group asked the rest of the class why no one stopped them from singling the ‘badge wearers’ out and sending them off by themselves. They asked us why we were so willing to go and sit far away and wear badges and not question them. The full impact of what they had done to us hit me then. Why had I gone along with it? I think it was because I have been raised to respect authority and to cooperate with people. I don’t tend to second-guess things too much or put too much analyzing on situations. I am a trusting person and honestly believe that people are good. In this situation, my upbringing and ‘building blocks’ may have been a chink in my amour. It could have made me vulnerable to a very dangerous situation. Would I want to change who I am and how am because of this lesson? I don’t think so.
Another example that comes to mind is from a History class I took. We were studying the civil rights movement. My teacher was wonderful. He really wanted to make sure his students learned the material so he presented it in many different learning styles. He would have use read the material, then he would lecture on it, then he would show a movies or slides or pictures of some kind, and then he would have us to some sort of hands on activity to really get us to understand it. One day, he was showing us pictures of riots and other events during the great Martin Luther King era and he showed a picture of a beautiful little blonde boy that was probably around six or seven years old. The boy was making a horrible face and spitting at a black woman as she walked by. This boy was being taught to hate blacks and people that were not the same as he was. People that had strong racial biases were putting his building blocks in place. What kind of a man would he turn out to be? Would he turn out like his parents and hate blacks and become a mean, close-minded person? Or would he be able to see past his building blocks and see the people beneath the colors? Would he be able to break the bonds of prejudice that were being wrapped around him? How hard would that be?
From a different perspective, how hard is it for someone that has been persecuted or even bullied as a child to look beyond those building blocks? How hard is it for someone that has always been at the short end of the stick or the butt of a joke to be the bigger person when given the opportunity? I love the song “Mean” by Taylor Swift. It is a song about someone that is being or has been picked on at some point in their life and how they know they will rise above it and be the bigger person later on. How hard would it be to be that person and to not only rise above those heartaches, but to become a kind and giving and even charitable person; to be able to stop feeling like the underdog and to become the ‘superhero’, for lack of a better word. How hard would it be to push the feelings of abuse and neglect to the back and to turn them into a desire to serve and help others? I can’t help but think of Christ and how he was persecuted and hated by so many and yet he loved them and wanted nothing more than to serve and help them.
Is it possible for all of us to become like that? We all have heartache. We all have building blocks that are in reality stumbling blocks that hold us back from our true potential to become Christ-like. We all have to find a way to look beyond who and what we think we are and to focus on that person we can become. That person that is all we want to be. That person that can hold our head up at the last day and say we did what we came here to do. We overcame our ‘natural man’ and built our own blocks on the one sure rock and foundation that is Christ and his example.
It is possible. I know it is. It isn’t going to be easy, but it will be worth it……cause HE said so.