Seeing People

In the film The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment said the much-parodied line, “I see dead people.”  Osment was able to see to a level that most people could not.  He could see past the world of the living or that which had been deemed to be real into that of the dead or what actually was real.

As we look around us during our daily routines we come back claiming to have seen people.  But have we really?  If we are being truly honest with ourselves, isn’t it true that what we have actually seen are ideologies – both our own and those of the people we have perceived?  We see a person with a turban and without maybe even wanting to, we think “terrorist”.  We see a heavy-set person and we think “lazy”.  Even without being bigoted, we see people for their clothes, the color of their skin, the car they drive, where they live, what they do, what they believe, etc.  We see a man with a yarmulke and immediately identify him as a Jew.  Yes, it is true that this man is a Jew, but he is first and foremost a person.

When we begin to objectify people we get a feeling of “Us vs. Them” and it becomes more difficult to have compassion and empathy.  When this happens it becomes easier for such atrocities as rape, murder, war, and genocide to occur.  We begin to see people as very difficult from ourselves and become polarized in our identities. 

Those of us coming from Christianity or Judaism see our God as the God of the Israelites, but we often forget that God is the Creator of ALL creation.  We are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator.  There is even a passage in a Midrash on the Exodus that says that God scolded the angels for singing while the Egyptian army was being drowned in the Red Sea.  God said, “What has come over you?  My creatures are drowning in the sea and you are singing?”  Let us celebrate our differences, but start seeing each other NOT through the opaque lens of our preconceived notions and ideologies, but rather for that which we ALL have in common – our humanity.

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