After watching the hearing of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford yesterday the one question that I can’t get away from is how come we treat each other so poorly? One side demonizes the other, believing what they want to believe, hearing what they want to hear, seeing what they want to see to support their hatred, disgust, and contempt for the other. It’s the same on both sides. What is it that stops us from basic courtesy? Why don’t we listen without pre-judgment? Why can so few people seem to feel compassion on both sides of the issue?
I think one reason this happens is that we have lost a core teaching of Scripture, that all humanity is made in the image of God. I don’t mean that they’re perfect, or that they wouldn’t benefit from change and growth. I’m saying their value comes from something deeper than their own actions or abilities. Each one of us, though broken and needy, have a spark of the divine buried in us by the fact that we were created in God’s image.
The world around us assigns value on a scale of how useful we are, or how attractive, or likeable. We also do that to ourselves, wrapping our own sense of value up in a long list of expectations that we can never truly meet. But God loves “the world” (Jn 3:16), all of it, not because we are doing so well, but because of what he embedded into each of us, a limited reflection of Himself.
In a world that acts in complete anti-thesis to this it is easy for us to lose our bearings and start valuing people on their abilities, what they have to offer us, or their political ideology. The gospel calls us to live differently, to love others as we have been loved by Jesus. To treat people based on God’s love for them, and not based on what they offer us.
I came across an amazing story lately about a Dutch bicycle company, Van Moof. Their bikes are incredible, but the story that intrigued me had to do with a struggle they went through early on in the life of their company. Their long range business plan was to sell 90% of the bikes online, but no matter who they used for shipping they had a huge number of bikes arrive damaged due to rough handling in transit. It was so bad that they were considering rethinking their entire business model until one of their co-founders had a brilliant idea. Their box looked like a huge flat screen TV box. Why not print a TV on the box and see if that caused the people along the shipping process to handle it differently. In the first year their damaged shipments decreased by almost 80%. People treated the box differently based on what they thought it had inside.
What if in our own lives we could stop seeing everyone else in terms of whether they are on our side or not and begin to see them as deeply loved by God and created by Him? Would that make republicans more compassionate toward Dr. Ford? Would democrats have a greater respect for Judge Kavanaugh? Who knows. But those aren’t the real questions you and I need to be asking. The real question for us is how do we see those around us? All of them? As means to an end or as a human being created in God’s image and deeply loved by Him?
How will you see everyone you come in contact with today? That’s the question with which we all need to wrestle.