A baby taking its first breath.
A momma who chose not to carry her baby to term.
The nurse who assisted with the procedure.
The pastor holding a condemning sign outside the clinic.
The man forcing his girlfriend to stay in the waiting room.
An officer killed in the line of duty.
The man who shot him.
A woman killed by a police officer.
The officer who went too far.
Each of their spouses and children and parents.
A young boy and his mother killed by a suicide bomber.
The people who groomed him.
The people who oppose him.
The people who mistake his version of a religion for an entire religion.
The presidential candidate who fuels ignorance and hatred toward that religion.
The president who is wrongly assumed to practice that religion and who would remain a human being even if he did.
The people who elevate their own religion above all other religions.
The man living under a bridge.
The man who sneers at him.
The man who offers him a bottle of water.
The police officer who tickets the man for his kindness.
The woman wearing a $25,000 designer jacket.
The woman who made it.
The man who underpays his seamstresses.
The child who sees his parents dealing.
The social worker who places the child.
The foster parent.
The people in line at Target who stare at the white child with the black mother.
People who gossip.
People who call gossip “journalism.”
People who believe everything they hear.
People who don’t believe anything.
People who won’t believe what they’ve not experienced.
People holding “God hates fags” signs.
People working for change.
People working against change.
People who don’t give a damn.
This was not easy. I’m shaking as I type. But I will not “other” anyone–even people who make my skin crawl, people whom I’d like to punch in the face, people who say things that make me so angry I can’t form coherent sentences, people around whom I feel unsafe. Our most significant problem is a fundamental lack of empathy. An unwillingness to listen. A refusal to see the world from any perspective but our own.
Horrible, awful things are happening and terrible, rotten people are leading the way. But they are people nonetheless, and I cannot stomach even one more hate-soaked comment. I’m not saying we don’t have shit that needs fixed. I’m not saying no one’s been wronged. I’m not saying there isn’t a better way. But we’re all in need of grace, and no one—NO ONE—is beyond the reach of it. The problem is we—you and I—have to extend it. And it seems we’re unwilling.
I’m just asking us to please, please, please look one another in the eye and find something of worth. It’s a place to begin. It can’t hurt.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, please read this quick follow-up.