7 Deadly Attitudes: Part 2
February 4th, 2013
News reports abound with references to the "innocent" people who are killed or injured by war or crime, and sometimes we think of the people who through no fault of their own are in poverty--the innocent children who need our help, the sick, the aged. Most people are glad that UCOM is there to help them.
From time to time, however, we hear of the "undeserving" people whom we serve. The occasional question is "How do you qualify who gets your services?" My response is usually serious/flippant: Who deserves to eat?
Truth is that none of us deserves our station in life. We are who and what and where we are through such a bizarre set of inter-related circumstances that judgment verges on inhumanity.
Inhumanity: Treating others as less than ourselves Sometimes we make poor choices. Other times we just wind up on the wrong side of the lucky stick. People born to affluence are more likely to continue that position in life. It is much harder for a youngster born into poverty to escape the oppression and abuse that is too often part of that cycle. Whether we like to admit it or not prejudice against minority races and ethnicities contributes to keeping people isolated. All of us are subject to addictions and illnesses that can impede our way of life.
A cure for inhumanity: empathy
Change in our world begins when one person empathizes with another. When we see others as in the same boat with us the us/them vanishes and nuances begin to appear rather than categories. Caring for our neighbors is inextricably woven into our understanding of ourselves, our motives, our reasons for being and doing. Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves is a philosophy that needs some serious revisiting, re-visioning and reacting.
It is much harder to be critical, harsh and inhuman to those whom we know to be much like us--faced with the same tough decisions every day, stressed, emotionally and physically drained, and doing the best they can in the moment--than it is to damn those stereotypical categories: foreigners, bums, "the entitled".
Some people don't even appreciate our efforts.
Gratitude is a great joy; however, doing something because we want to be thanked for it smacks of the worst kind of paternalism. Our humanity is enriched when we do what we can to improve the conditions in our community and in our world simply because we want to do it. If there is a response of thankfulness that's gravy for our super-sized egos. Should we expect people to be grateful because we are treating them as who they are--human beings who share their planet with us? Not so much.
What are some of the examples you have seen of inhumanity toward people who are coping with poverty?
What can we do to become more empathetic with those who seem different from us?