Today I saw a few more headlines about the Obama’s search for a dog to come with them to the White House. I find it amazing how much press this dog is getting and indeed how much it will get once chosen! And you know what? That dog will have NO IDEA how important, well known, famous and powerful a family it will have become a part of. It will simply love unconditionally, totally blind to human judgement.
If the dog for some reason would need to be taken out of the White House and given to another family – say, a poor family – it would be blind to the difference in surroundings, the difference in the economis status or importance of the family that it is now living with. It would simply continue to offer love.
Perhaps we all could learn something from our canine friends. Perhaps we could all benefit from removing the filters of judgement ingrained in us and become blind to the differences in people. I know that I would do well to become more like a dog. God knows that I have filters of judgement within me of which I am not even aware; yet they are there. Perhaps today I could begin opening myself to a wider circle of people and, like a dog, welcome whoever walks into the path of my life, no matter their appearance, economic status, belief system, political persuasion, etc.
Today as I jogged I was listening to National Public Radio and to their coverage of the political campaigns. I found myself quickly getting all riled up! Then I round the corner back to my house and find that my neighbors, with whom I have a good relationship, have placed two very large political signs in their yard, recommending a Representative that I have little respect for. Again, I quickly found bad feeling rising to the surface toward my neighbors.
Today I am reminded of another key to freedom. Mind your own business! That is, instead of always thinking of the bad qualities of whatever person or people we don’t like, or with whom we disagree, keep the focus on you. What do YOU need to change? How do YOU need to act and what is the person that YOU want to become? What are the solutions that YOU can put forth? Think of how this might change the political landscape! If the focus wasn’t on the opponent, but on what they can do, perhaps more would get done. Imagine if a politician could actually speak in humility and admit that they’re not perfect (for after all who is?); and then place before people what they CAN do and what they have to offer – instead of smearing their opponent? When more time is spent smearing the opponent than on the issues at hand, vision gets clouded.
The same is true for any of us. When we are constantly concentrating on those who have hurt us, or those with whom we disagree, our vision gets clouded. Perhaps we simply need to keep the focus on our own growth and the solutions that we can put forth in our corner of the world, instead of wasting time and emotion on our opponents.
“Can a blind person act as a guide to a blind person? . . .Remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your (opponent’s) eye.” See Luke 6: 39-42
After reading Matthew 15: 21-28 one would think so! And I wouldn’t be surprised. He was fully human and, being human, was raised with cultural and religious biases with which he had to grapple. It’s important to remember that the Gospel of Matthew was written to a predominantly Jewish Christian community. The Gospel reflects this bias. Perhaps the author is illustrating for his Jewish hearers how even Jesus had to overcome prejudice, pointing to the reason why they should welcome even “pagan” Gentiles as equals? Whatever the case, we have a situation where prejudice is obvious; and, gratefully, overcome.
A pagan woman presents herself to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter. Jesus dismisses her, even calling her a dog – probably a common term for Gentiles at the time. She persists though and, in the end, Jesus recognizes – even in this woman – great need and great faith; and in the end, he helps her.
As much as I would like to think that I welcome all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t. There are certain types – usually close minded, fundamentalist types – that I often ignore and avoid. I am challenged to look beyond labels and preconceived notions and open my heart to even these. I am challenged to help even those who would prefer that “my type,” either change or cease to exist. The gifts and talents that I have to offer I am to give even to these people, and I am not to view this as a waste, or as “throwing food to the dogs!”
Do I share what I have to offer with all people, or just a select few?