Which of us has not changed our hearts and minds
about a particular prejudice toward a “type” of person after
truly getting to know them, one individual at a time? When I
keep “the other” at arm’s length, then I am comfortable fearing
or disparaging entire groups of people, even if it is just within
my mind. When I label another as poor, homeless, Muslim,
gay, transgender, liberal, conservative, or any other adjective,
then I give up the option to truly listen to and interact with
someone as my fellow human. It is in the midst of everyday
interactions and conversations that my heart and mind open
up to change.
Within family, when someone we love reveals being
part of a previously feared or disdained group, we almost
always move forward together given time, communication,
understanding, and true love. It is rare to truly renounce
someone we love over such matters. When rejection of a loved
one is the choice, there is always great pain, suffering, and
destruction within the one scorned as well as the larger family
or community. Kent Annan, author on the topic of faith and
justice, says it this way: “It’s vital for us to enter into the truth
of other people’s lives. We’ll see the world differently.”28 I have
found this to be true.
One day as my older daughter was about to leave
elementary school, I needed to quickly buy a gift for her to take
to a birthday party. I stopped by an intimate, fun, eclectic shop
full of interesting items. As I browsed, it became clear that the
store clerk wanted to engage in conversation. Despite my
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