Monday, November 17, 2008

The Gift and Pain of the Other

Those who bear scars from intolerance should be the last to practice it. - Leonard Pitts Jr.

I read that statement on a friend's blog today after a full day of Classes and Practicum.

It got me thinking.

As with any group I'm in, I find myself naturally drawn to some people and wanting to distance myself from others. The people that I want to keep at arm's length are a real gift to me, as there is something in their behavior that is bringing something in me into the light for healing.

My pushing them away is about me not wanting to look at myself.

I hate it when I'm prejudged. When people make opinions about me because of something they've heard, I feel reduced. I am more than just a label. I am more than just the sum of my labels.

But oh how quickly I want to stick labels all over other people.

I reserve the right to do unto others what I hate being done to myself.

I think I 'stick labels' over others because I also 'stick them' over myself. Humans are complicated people. We can be overwhelming and tiring, especially after a long day of Learning, Debate, and Introspection. It's easier for me to attach a label than deal with the beautiful complexity that is me.

That is the gift of the Other. If I receive that gift, it enables me to remove labels I have affixed.

The pain of the Other is that removing labels hurts. I have successfully built up many layers of stickers over the years.

That is why sometimes, like today, I find myself getting defensive. I would rather label others than remove the label on myself.

Those who bear scars from intolerance should be the last to practice it.

Maybe one day, with God's Grace, I can throw my label maker away.

1 comment:

Network Geek said...

Pain is good, I read somewhere once. Pain is good because it reminds us that we're alive.

It's a hard lesson to learn, I think, that what we find uncomfortable about others is something in ourselves that we're trying not to see. It's hard to remember that sometimes.

I know you're busy with your training and all, but I sure do hope you two can make it for Thanksgiving at my house. All the cool kids will be there! And, me, too. ;)