the other

On the way to the Indianapolis this past week we stopped at a rest area. When we pulled in there were two men praying facing east at 10:00 pm. Many thoughts ran through my mind as I walked into use the facilities. I felt a need to go up to those men and talk to them. They had finished praying when I was walking back to my van so I went up and started a conversation with them. I told them it was encouraging to see two men dedicated to their faith. They looked at me puzzled. I told them I was a follower of Jesus and that I admired there ability to pray when and where they did. They both smiled and I made a comment that if we didn’t figure out how to get along with each other we were all doomed. They agreed shook my hand and we got back into our vehicles and drove away. As we pulled out my two daughters asked me why I had done that. Wasn’t I worried about going up to two strange men and engaging them. No thought of danger had entered my mind and I felt that my small effort to speak to them with respect might help a little pushing us towards a place of peace and understanding. After all isn’t that what my faith demands, loving others, loving my enemies, loving everyone. We have become a nation divided, divided by faith, race, money and a need to be right. The current political contests have made this clear. Candidates saying and doing things that entice us to a darker side. A place where we point fingers and cast blame, a place where one is better than the other, a place where a need to be right overwhelms the need to love. My small gesture may mean nothing in the end, yet I think it means everything. It doesn’t make me right or better than anyone. It doesn’t solve the problem outright. Yet it may be a start, a start in creating an atmosphere of mutual respect, a start to change ourselves and likely others. As we drove west my daughters and I started talking about WWII and what it would have been like being a Japanese American. We talked about how it was easy to pick out Japanese Americans because they look different. We talked about how it wasn’t so easy to pick out German Americans or Italian Americans because they looked like the dominant social group. My fear is that we are heading down that road right now. Heading to a place where one group dictates to another, a place where we have lived before. We can not forget how this country was built, can not forgot the people whom were killed, removed and demonized, can not forget that we are capable of horrific things in the name of right. The church we attend has been encouraging us to be brave. Be brave in ways that change us and in turn change others. And I wonder if being brave is really what it is all about, maybe its just being who and what were created to be, people who have a deposit of the divine implanted in us that we are supposed to let be our guide. The easy road is one of hate and self service, that road leads to strife and discontent in the end. We need to trust that small voice inside us that tells us to be more than we think we can, to see others as God made them. We need to remember that every person we see, talk to, love, hate, emulate, despise has that small spark of the divine also. So next time you feel that need to jump on the bandwagon, to shout that mean remark, to assume you are the one right, to let evil grow, stop. Stop and look to the one who lives inside you, stop and change your course, your words, your thoughts to see that other as your equal, your better, your friend. Imagine a world where we actually love others without judgment, without condition, without fear. Every journey begins with a single motion, each motion building on the other until eventually you arrive at place where you were always meant to be. Maybe its time to take that single small motion towards that place you already know.