Fine Lines

naxidinner-the-power-of-community

A Nazi Christmas dinner in Germany, circa 1940. Looks pretty familiar and comfortable to us, except for the pesky implications of those arm bands. Thus it’s not just a dinner, or a Christmas dinner; it’s a Nazi Christmas dinner.

If you’re standing in line with a stranger, what happens if he’s a few inches taller than you? Probably nothing. There’s nothing to distract, or to cause discomfort. You may make small talk. What if he’s a little shorter than you? Or wearing a sport coat?

What if he’s from another state? Probably nothing to consider…

What if he has really long, gray hair? Or an eye patch?

At some point, most people reach a degree of discomfort. What if he’s over 7 feet tall? Will you mention it? Or if he’s under four feet? What if he’s from a different country? Or a different race or speaking with a significant accent (or, more accurately, an accent that’s different from yours)?

For as long as we’ve been mobile enough to encounter others outside of our tribe, humans have been on alert for the differences that divide us. Then we fixate on those differences, amplifying them, ascribing all sorts of irrelevant behaviors to them. Until, the next thing you know, we start referring to, “those people.” We start boiling them down to generalizations, and even building a narrative for ourselves about them.

It seems as though it’s a lot more productive to look for things in common. Attitudes and expectations. Beliefs in the common good and forward motion. A desire to make something that matters…

Because there’s always more in common than different. We need to start acting as smart as we are.

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