When it hits close…
It’s easy to have an opinion.
Flip through the news channels on your television. Scroll through some news sites, or even just through your Facebook feed. Lots of opinions, huh?
I’ve noticed something about opinions. I’ve noticed that most of us tend to be far less gracious in our opinions when we don’t know anyone personally affected by the issue at hand. We tend to desire merciless rules…until we know someone’s story on a personal level. Until it hits home with someone we care about.
It’s simple to think that all people on welfare are lazy and trying to take advantage of the system.
It’s simple to think that all illegal aliens are trying to steal our jobs and take advantage of the system.
It’s simple to think that all non-English speakers are stubborn and arrogant and trying to take advantage of the system.
It’s simple to think that all Muslims harbor violent intent against Christians and hope to act on it through taking advantage of the system.
It’s simple to think that all unwed mothers have no moral compass and are trying to take advantage of the system.
…until you meet that honest hardworking family who just can’t catch a break and is caught between working low-paying jobs and paying high childcare costs, and losing all benefits.
Or those foreigners whose homeland situations are desperately impoverished with little hope of ever improving, and going back would mean certain punishment.
Or the person who speaks Spanish or Mandarin or Vietnamese who has little opportunity to learn English, which is a very difficult language to learn, particularly for adults.
Or the Muslim who really doesn’t share the belief system of his or her militant brethren and is scared that you’ll reject them when you find out their heritage…which was passed to them through their family, not a conscious, informed choice of spiritual rooting.
Or that single mom who’s never been married but knows abuse and abandonment well, as she tries to parent her children with little support and no respect.
It’s simple until you meet these people and enter into their stories on a personal level. Until you decide to be their friend. Not their savior, but their friend.
You think differently when it’s a personal friend who is facing deportation. Or any of these other situations. Because when it’s personal, you desire mercy.
When it’s personal, you want the system to work for your friend, not against them.
When it’s personal, you hope for an exception to the rules, one that sees a person and not just a situation.
When it’s personal, there’s no them.
There’s only us.