I noticed something the other day while at the grocery store. Half the people were wearing masks, and half were not. The half wearing masks would look at someone not wearing a mask with annoyance, as if to say, “how dare you?” The non-mask wearers would roll their eyes when seeing a mask-wearing person and shake their heads as if to say, “you’re feeding this hysteria.” I heard people in line complaining to the cashiers about the non-mask wearers being irresponsible. I heard the non-mask wearers complaining to the butcher about how all of this has gone way too far. I’ve been thinking about this division for days. What I saw in the store is a sampling of what’s happening in our country. And this morning a thought crossed my mind… It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong, I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle anyway. As a people, I don’t know that the test we’re facing is whether or not we can squash a pandemic. I think it might be, can we squash the temptation to hate and persecute each other in the midst of it? The truth is, both groups are right. We have a responsibility to keep ourselves healthy, and protect others. And we also have the responsibility to remain calm, and sensible. But the main responsibility we have is to see each other as ourselves. Now more than ever we are seeing the importance of giving each other kindness and grace. Understanding that our differences are much smaller than what bonds us and makes us alike. In this very moment, we all have the same fears and the same hopes. The overwhelming message I felt this morning was to practice seeing each other through the lens of love. Rather than judging and condemning someone for acting differently than you – try on the lens that they may be responding differently, but at the core they feel the same way you do. They want to feel safe, they want their family to be safe, and they want this to be over. Maybe our job right now is to be compassionate, forgiving, and kind – no matter what. If we can do that, if we can practice seeing others through the lens of love – even when they look, act, and feel differently than we do - it might be the most healing thing we learn throughout this whole experience. Imagine if we took that with us into the next phase of our lives, after this is all over. The world would be a much better place, and we’ll have gained something very valuable from it all. This practice may feel uncomfortable at first, and even ignite anger or defensiveness within you. That’s okay – sit with that feeling, ask yourself why its there. Then, keep practicing. The first time you notice someone you don’t know, who looks or acts different than you, look into their eyes, and smile at them with kindness and love – for no other reason than to simply acknowledge that they’re a human with the same pains and pleasures as you. In that moment of connection, you will feel more full of love than you can imagine. Petty differences melt away, anger and defenses dissolve, and somehow it will feel like we’re getting closer to something real. May the lens of love be with you.
With love and gratitude,