From Their Perspective
Carol Ann Reiff of Whitehall, MT, USA
And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth. -Mosiah 11:207
A friend of mine is heartbroken. She came to my country with many dreams and hopes for her future and became a naturalized citizen. She has had many opportunities but also many disappointments which have come in the form of outward actions of prejudice against her. She is honest, kind, loving, humble, and hard working. She has been accused of things she did not do, and has even been verbally attacked. She has worked hard at doing her best job and was dismissed. People have taken advantage of her because of her vulnerability. She has worked extremely hard to “fit in,” and yet has been threatened.
As I have reviewed in my mind some of the things that have happened to her, I wondered how people could treat another human that way. My answer came as I remembered a scene from my childhood. I was walking down the street with a relative. We passed an African American man. I looked up and said, “Hi.” We greeted even strangers in this way then. My relative was a very kind man, so his reaction surprised me. Gruffly, he exclaimed, “Don’t you ever talk to those n…….s!” Even as a child I knew he was wrong. He reacted out of fear for the sake of his little charge and out of ignorance. I don’t believe hate is the opposite of love. I believe hate comes from the true opposite which is fear.
In thinking about this I realized I, too, have reacted in fear. I have withheld my love and association from some people who think differently from me. I have refused to really listen to their side. I have said hurtful things behind their backs. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and anyone who might read this. The hope for our world lies in getting behind the eyes of other people, seeing life from their perspective. And even if we are sure they are wrong, show respect and kindness to whomever we meet. Change begins with the person in the mirror.
“Your mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23, adapted).
Ordinary Time is a season for noticing the details of life that make up its substance. This month, we invite you to pay attention with each fresh morning to the gift of being alive. Before getting out of bed, take a few deep breaths and notice what it feels like to wake up in your own body. Engage the tasks of your unfolding day with reverence-brushing your teeth, making the bed, pouring the coffee, tending the kids, feeding the animals, making breakfast, etc. Notice the presence of the Holy in every ordinary thing. Embrace your daily routines with sacramental significance. Notice how long you can do this before your attention is taken away, and commit to returning to this simple awareness as gently and often as you can.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.