We’re born discriminating, distinguishing, and differentiating because we’re born very, very near-sighted.
Our first job in life is to distinguish ourselves from the world. To determine what’s us and not them. This hand I see, the one that moved when I thought ‘move’, it moved! That hanging thing that flung when I thought the move and meant ‘fling’, I did that! That hand belongs to me!
But that face I see, that gets close, big and round and noisy, what is it? It doesn’t move when I think move. I can reach out and touch it, but it’s separate from me. It’s different from me. It’s not part of me. It’s not me.
Who am I? What am I? This is the objective of growth.
We learn to walk, in baby steps. Tipping, teetering, flailing, falling because we’re born very, very imbalanced.
Our second job in life is to move in our world. The challenge is keeping our balance. Footholds are unsure and pavement is uneven. Our eyes learn to distinguish what is taller, what is shorter. This is closer; that is further. Spatial discrimination allows us to judge where to put our foot, how long to stride, so we can gauge how far to go, and how far we’ve gone.
Where am I? How did I get here? This is the objective of movement.
We learn to run, faster, slower, modulating effort based on terrain and conditioning because we enter the race with very little sense of pace.
Our third job in life is to navigate in our world. Now with distance vision, we wonder…Where to go. What to take with us. How much to give. How much to take. What’s it worth to you? What’s it worth to me? If there is a cost, can I pay it? Can I absorb it? What’s the proper response? How do you react when I say this or do that?
Not only am I not you, but I don’t know you.
I’m different from you, distinct from you.
I don’t think like you do.
Don’t dress like you do.
Don’t worship like you do.
Didn’t know that about you.
Didn’t know that about me.
Whoa. Then who am I?
I’m sure not you.
That’s cool! Tell me about you.
Our fourth job in life is to find our place. Look what I can do! I prefer my right hand. I favor my left foot. My right eye is dominant, but I’m left-brained. When I fold my hands, I put my right thumb on top. Oh my gosh…you don’t?! I thought everybody did. What else can’t you do?
Can you roll your tongue? Can you whistle? Can you snap? Can you make the Vulcan sign, “Live long and proper.” Sure you can. It’s like this. Let me show you. But some really can’t. Whoa. If this is preferred over that, and he is favored over her, then which side am I on? Because there’s a winning side and I want to be on it.
The world takes over there. It rewards and punishes. It dichotomizes. It separates. And the bias we came with – our ability to differentiate, to distinguish self from not self, foreground from background, distant from nearby – what was intended for our growth, ambulation, and navigation, which were all meant for our distinction, is adulterated. It becomes our nature to use it for our advantage.
We are created human, propelled into being. When we take sides, we down-shift into doing. We throttle down, engine roaring, we sprint to the finish line, plowing through our fellow humans. Each of those has dreams, as we do. Each strains to hear that singular hushed voice which hopes.
But that’s not our voice.
Our voice has volume.
Our eyes are narrowed.
Our minds are focused.
On what we already know.
We look for confirmation of what we’ve already decided.
We listen for affirmation of what we already admire.
we are supporters.
we are fans.
we’ve taken sides.
Bias? Why yes. we were born with it.
Bias is natural, but it’s not terminal.
It need not be fatal.
Mind the gap.
literally, thrown to the ground
by the hand grenades being heaved in my land.
There’s been a bombing,
but there’s no shrapnel,
no visible debris,
just many, many injuries.
Bodies strewn everywhere,
writhing in pain.
Bandaging their wounds,
wrapping their torn limbs.
Some, sitting motionless on the cement,
with hands pressed to their ears,
cry, “Make it stop”
“Make it stop”
Can anyone see them?
I stumble and fall,
gashing my leg on the rocks,
fording the rubble,
trying to reach them.
Does anyone hear them?
Yelling! Screaming! Crying!
It doesn’t stop.
Oh, blessed silence,
where are you?
I would listen if you came.
I would read and listen,
for information, not ammunition.
I would ask and listen,
be inquisitive, not an inquisition.
I would speak and listen,
to those with whom I agree,
and to those with whom I differ.
I would seek out and listen,
for those with little life experience,
and those with much.
I would meet and listen,
face to face and full of attention,
delving for meaning, certain of purpose.
What is the world making of us?
that we have forgotten
how to listen to each other and
become numb to ourselves?
We are meant to make of this world!
to be creative forces
using our hands to hold and our hearts to unfold,
applying ourselves to build,
something of each other.
There’s been a bombing but no explosion.
The ringing in my ears
is the sound of deafening,
the tearing limb from limb
of innocent souls.
Dare we feel it deeply?
Let it hurt us enough
to make it stop?
“There’s probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy life”
…read the back of the service van
weaving through the crowds gathered
to marvel at St. Stephen’s Cathedral,
where all are welcome to enter
free of charge.
When ‘probably not’
opens the door to ‘possibly is’
the great bolt of worry
slides aside to unlock a
Joy greater than
What if we entered in?