So when you look at a window, what do you see? Glass, of course. Flyspecks and dust. Perhaps the crack from your neighbor kid’s errant baseball or BB gun.
The trouble with simply looking AT something is that it proves difficult to see beneath or beyond the surface of what we see. AT gives us an object and little more.
But what do you see when you look through the window? You see beyond the surface. You see the world at your doorstep. You see streets that lead you somewhere down the road. You see neighbors trying to live in the same hope and peace you seek.
Given the partisanship and deep divisions that hold many of us at arm’s length from one another, it’s hard to see a time when as a people and nation, we would be willing to sit around a campfire, hold hands and sing “Kum By Yah” in peace and harmony. We just aren’t there yet. We still need time to actually listen to each other’s hopes and fears for our nation and our world. At the moment, we are too busy shouting at each other, or too willing to simply plug our ears and stop listening. Above all, we need time to see THROUGH the barriers and prejudices that limit our vision to seeing only the superficial in one another.
For instance, when you look at an immigrant, what do you see? A threat, an alien, a terrorist? To look at, is to see only the stranger. But to look past and through all the hateful, fear-baiting rhetoric is to have a chance to see a neighbor in need, to see a family or a child desperate to escape war or poverty or personal harm. To look beyond our own anxiety is to discover opportunities for a generous and compassionate humane response, the kind we would hope to receive in a world reversed.
We will get there one day soon. When we do, we will sense the warmth of our common humanity, the welcome of open hands and hearts, and may well find time to sing together the Moravian Brethren hymn by Olive Wise Spannaus:
“Lord of all nations, grant us grace to love all people, every race; and in each person may we see our kindred, loved and redeemed by thee. Break down the wall that would divide thy children, Lord, on every side. My neighbor’s good let me pursue; let (faithful) love bind warm and true; and give us thy courage Lord to speak whenever strong oppress the weak.”
Kim Latterell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.