Shakespeare, in The Merchant of Venice, writes: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?”
Somehow I find those words appropriate in these interesting days in our nation. The human heart cannot be changed through a court decision or a legislative act. Authentic inclusion cannot be forced or mandated. The only truth which finally redeems is our shared humanity; each one of us a child of God. We all bleed if we are pricked. We all cry when a loved one dies. We all aspire to love another special person and be loved in return and live in peace. Until we recognize this flesh and blood connection to the person we may still label as “the other,” nothing will change.
In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says to his daughter, Scout:
…if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […]until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
Indeed. Until we who are white have the courage to face how difficult life is for so many people of color in our land, things will not change. Until we who are straight have the moral imagination to understand what it is like to have your essence as a child of God called “sinful” and “unnatural,” nothing will change. Until we who are privileged by virtue of the class we are born into or the zip code we call home, until we confront the pain of poverty and being poor, nothing will change.
In the end, we are all human, all children of God. All.
Before we are a color, or a gender, or an orientation, or a class, or a race, or a religion, or a nationality, we are all human. When we finally get that, the world can change. If we don’t, the world will continue on as it is. Two thousand years ago a wise teacher was asked to name the most important of God’s laws. His answer was simple: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.”
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? If I want to be treated with equality and justice, I will do the same for others. If I want to be accepted for who I am, I must accept others for the person God made them to be. If I don’t want to be judged, labeled, or stereotyped, I need to stop doing that to my neighbor.
Yes, these are interesting, amazing, incredible days in the life of our nation. We’ve come a long way. We’ve still got miles to go to reach our promised land.
You are loved,