If I adopt these ideas in my relationships with others, communication might be better. Taking others as they are, where they are, means letting go of judgments and my controlling images of what I need them to be or to do for my own comfort.
But how does this work with abhorrent people and behaviors? White supremacists. All haters. Trigger-happy world leaders. If I work to see them with my heart [until the 1400’s the word ‘vision’ referred exclusively to sight with the mind’s eye—prophetic, mystical revelation or contemplation], I can blend empathy for their anger with a sense of their woundedness, while not condoning the cruelty they demonstrate by their church bombs or hate speech. And what might happen if this manner of seeing becomes mutual?
When I bother to quiet my own insistent voice and visions, to ask with authentic interest about another’s state of mind, or to ask the other to do so for me—will tensions de-escalate? We might be able to till in a new garden where insight flourishes alongside the thorns. Yet, tribe against tribe seems to be our forever fate. It all begins with me.
Inspired by the recent Commonweal article “Seeing is Believing” by Cassandra Nelson.