Glennon Melton recently wrote that “There is no such thing as other people’s children”. I agree and would add that there is no such thing as “other people”, at least not after you’ve opened up your life to the people that are around you,
When you speak of Muslims, when you speak of immigrants, when you speak of the mentally ill,
when you speak of criminals, when you speak of addicts, when you speak of poor people,
when you speak of food stamp users, when you speak of medicaid recipients, when you speak of homeless people,
when you speak of black people, when you speak of activists, when you speak of gay people, when you speak of transgender people,
when you speak of Christians, when you speak of Southerners, when you speak of gun owners,
when you speak of veterans, when you speak of officers of the law, when you speak of the disenfranchised,
when you speak of women, when you speak of domestic violence and rape survivors,
when you speak of white men, when you speak of pro-life and pro-choice, when you speak of artists and athletes,
when you speak of middle class, ghetto, trailer trash,
when you speak of educators, when you speak of white collar and blue collar and no collar-
you are speaking of someone I love.
You are speaking of someone I know.
You are speaking of someone I respect.
You are speaking of someone that matters.
You are speaking of a flesh and blood person that deserves more than a label, that deserves more than to be lumped into a gross misrepresentation based upon your negative interpretation of their identity.
Don’t look at me and assume I will agree or acknowledge or condone your misunderstanding.
I am tired of pretending I didn’t hear what you said.
I am tired of pretending it doesn’t matter as long as you weren’t talking to me.
I am tired of glossing over your words on the screen because ignoring them isn’t making them go away.
Those words, those ideas, those walls you’re building separating you from the others, it is a lie, it is a dangerous lie and I want to tear it down and make you see you are nothing more, nothing better, nothing different. There are no “other” people.
There are just people that we live with and work with and eat with and commute with. There are just people that shop where we shop and want what we want – to belong, to be loved, to be seen, to be valued. There are just people all over the world walking through the same routines, aching for the same things as you and me.
We all have our unique abilities, experiences, and quirks, but the core of every person is so similar to every other person that all we do when we declare war on the other is seek to destroy our own counterpart. I am tired of watching people ignore the true enemies of our humanity – hate, selfishness, greed, bitterness, and fear – while tearing apart their brothers and sisters.
I am tired of the assumption that we can win against ourselves.
There are no “other’ people. There is only one people. And we are well on the way to self-destruction. We are well on the way to taking ourselves out.
There is strength in unity, but we are weakening with every insult, every inflammatory video and sensationalized story that hasn’t even been fact-checked, every time we decide those “other” people are the problem. We are the problem.
If we wanted to, we could identify and address root issues without casting a blanket of blame and making that the focus. We could provide justice without indicting an entire “type” of people. We could bring change by being willing to take the blame for what we’ve done, for systems we’ve set up or participated in that don’t work, that trap people, fail people, trick people, mistreat people. We could step up and apologize for the times we’ve done wrong by our brothers or sisters or ourselves in this life. We could look at ourselves and our homes and our families and we could try to do better, be better. We could commit to growing, building something better. We could move forward together.
Or we could all drown, dragging each other to the bottom, weighted with our desire to watch the other sink before us, not realizing that we are sinking too.