I’ve had great opportunities to sit with my grandmother and hear amazing stories from the past. In one of those accounts, I was intrigued by how field workers where paid during her younger years. The land owner would place the money on the ground, and after he walks away, the workers were to come get it. The purpose was that there should be no chance for their hands to touch. If money is handed to them, that “danger” would be a possibility. The concept of untouchability was so strong that their conscience was not at all impacted.
Although this may seem surprising to us, it was normal practice in their day many years ago. I am sure there were people who disagreed, and thought differently, but they may have kept the disagreement to themselves. They went with the flow and did as everyone else.
When one is confused about reality, they see others as inferior, and unclean, and unworthy. From the outset, this perception impacts how we deal with others.
The popular society may have certain views on particular groups of people. For example, when a crime is reported, many respond and say, “that figures; these people are such a menace to society.” Blanket statements such as these are quite common.
The commonly proposed suggestion is for us to understand and accept the differences of others. Once we accept the obvious differences, we will be able to accept the person as well, since the differences are the things that separate people.
But more than just acceptance, there needs to be relationship leading to community. Then that relationship can be mutually beneficial. Relationship is best developed when there is commonality with others. But with some, its difficult to find anything in common. In such a situation, Job’s friend Elihu found the most peculiar commonality: “Behold I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay. Behold no fear of me need to terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy on you.” (Job 33:6-7)
I suppose you can’t get more basic than that to find commonality: “I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.” Those people who paid the workers by placing the money on the ground could find no way to relate. Just like Elihu, they could have looked back to creation and they would have found commonality there.
Do you struggle to find commonality with some people?
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