Knowing a Person’s Story
In this time, when we see so much pent-up frustration and anger welling up and spilling out on the streets, it is evident that people on many sides of many issues have not been taking the time to learn individual stories. Instead, we classify and dehumanize others by referring to them as “those people.” This is not about race because it cuts in pretty much every direction imaginable; economic, religious, ethnic, political, education, gender, etc.
What if we treat people as individuals, treating each person you meet as a child of God with a story that is as unique as a fingerprint? What if we found a way to love and serve them even in their struggles? How would this change the world if we all did this?
Here is an example of someone’s story – “J” and I have a good friend; I will call him “C.” He is an uber talented music teacher and choral conductor at a very exclusive private school in the Washington D.C. area. He speaks German almost as easily as English. He is a devout conservative Christian man who, because of his music background, is deeply moved by more classical forms of worship. He grew up in an adoptive home and loves his deceased parents very much. He went to college with “J,” so they share a commonality of story from their college years. He is a confirmed bachelor. Oh, did I mention that “C” is an African American man? This means that his experiences in the culture in which we share can, at times, be very different to mine. “C” is simply and wonderfully “C,” and that is why we love him!
Every person has a story, and it deserves to be seen and heard. Their story includes family, career, where they live, what is important to them, and their likes and dislikes. It contains all the agonies and the ecstasies of their lives. Yes, it is okay to see their color, culture, and ethnicity because they are who they are. To ignore or deny or classify any of these would be leaving out an essential part of their story.
The other day, I came across this picture on the internet. For you Bob Ross fans, you will not be surprised…
What Bob Ross did was listen to the man’s story; his frustration of not being able to see color and his perceived handicap of not being able to paint. Bob found a way to honor that man’s story as an individual.