The election campaign was full of “attack ads”, and how sad that this model of verbal assault on candidates has become normalised in our culture.
The Blue Jays large bandwagon helped us to #ComeTOgether while we trash-talked the other team(s), the umpires, the fans, &c.
The Refugee and IDP situation stirs up horrible, inaccurate commentary about ‘those terrorists’ or ‘greedy money seekers’ who are out to destroy our lives.
Local victims of Typhoon Koppu or Hurricane Patricia aren’t even considered as travelers lament a ruined vacation or a too-slow evacuation plan.
In our own communities, the hungry and homeless are viewed with contempt or fear, and seldom engaged on a real level.
It’s THEM. Those people. The ones we don’t like; the ones we don’t know; the ones we want other people to ‘deal with’ for us.
The people who are spoken of in derogatory terms, the people whose names and stories we don’t know; the people we don’t want to like.
It’s a difficult time, when we realise that society is finding this behaviour acceptable. It’s a difficult time when we realise that we are ourselves, at times, engaging in this same behaviour.
To counter this negative reality, I share an experience from a fundraising BBQ this summer. One man had carefully counted his money before ordering a small meal; while he was eating a parishioner pulled me aside and said “I want to talk to you about THAT MAN.” Our conversation was delightfully shocking as she told me all about “THAT MAN”—his name, how he may look rough but was at heart a good person, how she had shared a meal with him a few weeks’ previously when she had seen him downtown and asked if he was hungry.
“THAT MAN” she said to me, using his name, was to receive whatever food he wanted, and she would pay for it if he was short. Because THAT MAN, she said, was some mothers’ son. As a mother herself, she would want her son to be cared for by a community should the need arise—she would want her son to be known, and respected, and given the benefit of the doubt.
My parishioner clearly took her baptismal vows seriously—to seek the Christ in all people, to respect the dignity of every human being, to see that everyone is part of a family; everyone is some mother’s son or daughter.
I imagine how our world would be if we all chose to embrace that model. Imagine if everyone we saw, instead of being “them” or “those people” became some mother’s daughter who ran for office, some mother’s son who caught a controversial baseball over the green wall, or Aylan who was escaping political persecution, or María whose home and livelihood has been swept away.
Imagine if we truly saw and treated “those people” as beloved children of God. Imagine if we took Jesus’ lessons seriously, implementing them in our lives. Jesus, who himself had been refugee, poor, living on others’ generosity, politically unpopular. Imagine if we engaged the world as our faith calls us to do—all in the service of Jesus, some mother’s son.