We Need To See Each Other
This is the Love sculpture by Ukrainian artist Alexander Milov from the 2015 Burning Man festival in Nevada.
We need to see this. Whatever else we need, we need to see this. We need to see each other.
Yes, we need money out of politics, and an influx of truth-telling civic leaders who do not see us as some sort of living stepping stones on the path to power. Without a doubt, we need to rise above the incendiary racist rhetoric and the demonization of those who are different from us. It’s unquestionable that we must hear the voices of the oppressed, and learn from those whose experience is so apart from ours in the scope of their pain and suffering, that we are unable to understand it unless they tell it to us themselves. But we need – oh, how we need – to see this.
Why Can’t We See Each Other?
There’s the mind-numbing, soul-sucking Twitterverse, resplendent in its glory of outrage-fueled condemnation and despair-laden prognostication. Everyone’s an expert. Yes, there are wise and brilliant ones who are making cases against systemic racism, crony capitalism, and every other “ism” that eats away at the fabric of our culture. Yet, there are so many days that end with emotional exhaustion from the diluvial rush of verbiage dedicated to the building up and tearing down of ideologies and worldviews. Without question, we need to see this.
The finger pointing and hypocrisy hopscotch that papers the walls of Facebook is enough to drain all of the blood from the body. The sheer absurdity of “puppies for Christmas” videos alongside political and racial screeds screws us into the ground up to our necks, locked tight. Close it, open it, refresh it. Always looking for joy but so often finding dystopia. With all the strength we can muster, we need to see this.
What Happens When We Can’t See Each Other?
The back-turning demonization of others and the denial of the overwhelming commonality of humanity leads to despots and demagogues and demented destroyers of life. To be sure, there are bad actors on many stages. We are right, at times, to throw the rotten vegetables of polemics, to shine scathing light into the corners of the halls of power and learning. But those are not sporting activities or hunting parties, but correctives and conversation starters. We laugh and sneer as we systematically dismantle the innate value of other humans, because we find their religious or political views repugnant. We so need to see this.
This isn’t about everyone agreeing on everything. Rather, it’s about everyone agreeing on one thing, that we need each other. When that one need is not met, we long for it, unwittingly. We act out in pain, in self-protection, in political power maneuvering and character assassination, and in real assassinations. Isn’t it plain that we need to see this?
How Can We See Each Other?
We must summon “the courage to be vulnerable in front of those we passionately disagree with.” (Frances Kissling) Kissling advocates that we turn towards one another, and ask ourselves, “What is it in your own position that gives you trouble? What is it in the position of the other that you are attracted to? Where do you have doubts?” These words are from her deeply fascinating and compelling interview with Krista Tippett at On Being. Be warned that the subject matter is divisive (abortion), but her approach is that of a “bridge person” as Tippett refers to her.
Kissling purposes to engage in thoughtful and reflective ways with those with whom she disagrees.
In doing this, she turns toward the other.
She sees this.
We need to see it, too.