In his last blog, posted January 23rd, Dr. Roberts referred us back to some of Martin Luther King, Jr’s thoughts on how we could learn to live together in peace, no matter what our skin color or religious leaning. Dr. Roberts asked if we thought it was possible to learn to live together in peace here in Atlanta.
A critically important question. But how can I live with you in peace if I don’t really know you? Take a moment, if you will, to examine a day in your life. How often on any typical day do you have an opportunity to interact, much less really get to know someone truly different from yourself? For a few of us, the answer might be fairly frequently. But I believe for the vast majority of us the chances are quite slim for any significant interaction.
Unfortunately, the walls of racism, ethnic difference, social class, economic standing, and religious intolerance, still exist to a vast degree.
How then are we going to overcome these barriers to our understanding of one another? We can begin by using the human power of empathy. But an even better solution would be to seek out those different from us. If you want to begin to understand what it means to live with the label homeless, go volunteer in a shelter. If you want to better understand someone who is racially or religiously different from you, seek out a neighbor or fellow worker, and reach out your hand in friendship. Or if you are a part of a congregation, you could encourage the leadership to reach out to members of other congregations totally different from your own, so that diverse congregations could create programs that would draw their members toward paths that hopefully would lead to better understanding of the other.
The answer to Dr. Roberts question, “can we live together in peace?” is a resounding yes, but not until I really come to know you, and you understand who I really am. Then, and only then, can we realize that we are both so much more than the labels we wear…