Saturday, October 10, 2009

People Are Not "The Enemy"

My wife, Suzan, made a very profound comment recently (she actually does that quite often!) that relates directly to the central focus of this blog. She said,

"You can’t impact the culture if you don’t interact with the culture.”

It’s sad, but true, that most of us have a tendency to view the world in terms of “Us vs. Them.” When we look at people who ridicule or ignore us, or whose lifestyles and values are offensive to us, we usually consider them as the "Enemy.” We are the Good Guys. They are the Bad Guys. We have the Truth. They have only Error.

Some time ago, my family and I were standing in line at an amusement park. Behind us was a young couple who clearly did not appear to value the same things we did. The young man had several tattoos, and both he and the young woman had introduced vibrant colors into their hairstyles and wore numerous earrings on a number of body parts other than their ears. I especially noticed the tongue and lip piercing.

It was quite clear from the response of most of the others in the line that no one was willing to talk to them. They were “too weird.” So, I decided to engage them in conversation. I asked a very honest question:

“Doesn’t that hurt?”

What followed was a delightful conversation with two very interesting and open people. We talked about life and love and marriage. I learned that their views were actually not that different from mine in a number of significant ways, and they actually had some very insightful things to say. They were also quite interested in listening to the observations and principles for marriage we shared with them from the perspective of a couple who had been happily married for over 35 years.

People are not the enemy. They are created beings of inestimable worth who have worthwhile things to say, and are often very willing to talk with people from totally different backgrounds if those people are willing to interact with them honestly and openly.

And, no, they said it didn't hurt.

1 comment:

unclegeorge said...

Our church formed several Bible study groups for a program that lasted approximately 3 years. Those in attendance were the usual staunch 40+ year-old parishioners that everyone would expect to join. The main idea was to expose everyone in the group to each member's individual interpretation of a particular reading for the week. One year, we were blessed with the attendance of a teen-age boy, as well as a newly-married couple in their twenties. Their interpretations were SO ENLIGHTENING AND REFRESHING!! It helped us old fogies, set in our ways, to realize the ideals and aspirations of an age long forgotten to us, and brought back the memories of our youth. You're absolutely's NOT 'us vs them''s our inadvertent passivity to engage with 'them'. Since that time, I always say hello to everyone, and attempt to interact with them. No matter how old you get, you can always learn from others.