Sunday, November 20, 2016

The wisdom of non-discrimination on a Sunday

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk and religious leader who ranks right up there with truly good and holy people like Pope Francis and Jean Vanier, in my books. Fondly known as Thay, which means teacher, he tells the beautiful story below in his new book, At Home in the World:

Lately I've been thinking a lot about human beings and our left-or-right, black-and-white ways of thinking. We like to divide things into opposing categories rather than try to see everything as one part of a much greater whole. Unfortunately this is where so much of our world's suffering arises.

But if the human race is to survive the challenges it is facing on so many different fronts -- ecological, social, financial, intellectual, spiritual, political, etc., we need to look beyond our own prejudices and our tendency to exclude those whose outlooks and opinions are different than ours. When we have the wisdom of non-discrimination, according to Thay, we don't suffer. Whether we tend towards the right or the left, we need to remember that the suffering or happiness we feel or cause isn't ours alone. Both sides are affected, and both sides can help the other to heal.

With this in mind in the week ahead, let's practice inclusiveness rather than discrimination. Talk to a stranger and learn about his or her challenges. Look at opinions different than our own. Smile at someone who needs a smile of their own. Hold open a door. Offer a helping hand. Show genuine concern for someone different than us by trying to understand their point of view. There are so many ways to reach across the chasms that divide people.

It's just a matter of reaching.

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