Recently I have been thinking about road rage, maybe not even rage, but road annoyance. I was driving the other day and started to go into the other lane. Right as I was checking my blind spot the girl driving the car next to me honked and then proceeded to give me the middle finger. I wasn’t mad or upset. I did make a mistake. I didn’t see her. As I have been thinking about road annoyance, I realize how much easier it is to get mad at “that car” than “that person.” Had that same situation happened in the grocery store with carts, we would have both apologized for getting in each other’s way and moved on. When we look the person in the eyes, it’s easier to be understanding than when it’s just “that car.” I sometimes try to look in the window at the person who’s driving the car that’s making me crazy. When I see it’s an elderly woman who can barely see over the steering wheel or a young teenager just learning to drive, I’m not nearly as angry or annoyed.
Knowing the person can make all the difference. I’ve thought of this for years as I have watched people make judgments about those distant and different from themselves. I received an email several months ago that demonstrated this well and made me want to throw my computer when I read it. I opened my email to read several paragraphs about how this couple were infertile but were strong Christians. They mentioned that if one of our girls from First Glance’s teen moms programs wanted to give up their baby, the infertile couple would be happy to take him or her. People think that a teenage girl from an urban environment will not be as good of a mother as a 20 something year old Christian woman. It’s a stereotype that I fight against often for our girls! Our girls have the potential to be amazing moms. Sometimes they just need taught. They need someone to demonstrate it, but they have the ability. In case you are wondering, I never did respond to that email. I couldn’t without saying words I might later regret.
Unfortunately this world is broken and the amount of abuse that I hear about is astounding. The stories that haunt my mind the most are always the ones that feel so inhuman, where I walk away from a story realizing that one person didn’t see the other person as a human. These are stories where parents keep their kids locked up, grown men tie up a scared 14 year old girl so they could rape her, and men pee on young women to show dominance. I would like to say these are all stories I’ve heard on the news, but truth be told, they are all ones that I’ve heard from women I know. It is a blatant demonstration of a person who does not view the others as human.
Additionally, I think about the inhumanity when it comes to race. When I think about what happened in Charlottesville it infuriates me. It does so because people are treating other humans as less! Nobody is less because of their skin color. That is insane! Nobody is less because of their economic status. Nobody is less! And yet, over and over, I have seen these injustices up close and in person as the Director of First Glance. (There are many more stories than I have time to go into today).
A couple weeks ago I was at a the Global Leadership Summit and heard a man Bryan Stevens speak about race, poverty, and justice. The reason I loved the way he spoke about it is because he talked about this idea of proximity. When you get in proximity with people that seem so different than us, it brings a new understanding. It allows us to see them as people, not as the stereotype or judgment that might be in our mind. I encourage you to listen to his TED talk, although he doesn’t use the world proximity in this particular clip, it’s still the same concept.
And so I go back to the car conversation, why is it so easy to get so angry or pass judgment at “that red car,” never caring about what is happening with the person on the inside? Unfortunately we do this in real life. We see race, status, economics, etc and never take time to get to know and understand that person.