Yesterday, I finished off with the thought, we cannot know ourselves without being open to others.
This doesn’t take place by demanding others become like us, but by celebrating our differences.*
We’re on a journey from xenophobia to xenophilia,** from fearing strangers to loving strangers, from hostility to hospitality.^ Rather than being anxious about those who are not like us, we’re discovering how it’s possible to be open to one another.
Brian McLaren warns us about some of the outworkings of unresolved anxiety about life:
‘Eventually, anxiety-driven people find a
vulnerable person or group to vent their
anxiety upon. The result? Bullying,
scapegoating, oppression, injustice.’
When we know ourselves and are doing what we must do, it’s akin to having the oxygen we need to live. But oxygen for one becomes carbon dioxide to another. When we do what others think we ought to do it’s akin to breathing their carbon dioxide. When we expect others to do as we think they should, we’re doing the same thing.
Mild effects experienced from too much CO2 will include sleepiness and sluggishness, being unable to think and function well. Taking in more excessive amounts places us in danger of nerve and respiratory damage, even asphyxiation.^^ Unless we find our oxygen we can go through life more asleep than awake, or, worse, permanently deadened to what our lives can be about.
(*This can only occur within an infinite game scenario – including as many as possible for as long as possible, and changing the rules when this is threatened. Many situations we find ourselves in are finite game scenarios, demanding we fit in with the institution or people running the game.)
(**Alex McManus explores this journey in Makers of Fire.)
(^One of three Human movements identified by Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out.)
(^^Interestingly, too much oxygen can lead to similar life-threatening conditions, but that’s another blog.)
(Here’s a blog from Seth Godin which connects with this.)
(This cartoon and blog from Hugh MacLeod also connects.)