Some can’t wait to ditch the masks, while others can’t imagine a future without them. Some were in line immediately to get a vaccine and post it quickly to the socials. Others are still weighing the risks to figure out what is best for them. Some are convinced that we have overreacted to this pandemic. Some are confident that we didn’t take strong enough steps to arrest the spread of this virus. Some love their governor. Some have obvious anger toward their governor.
But I was brought up short this morning thinking about another distinction. Some have lost a loved one to Covid. And others haven’t.
I am convinced that we have gone through a season of deep divisions that center on a lack of sympathy. Have we spent a year forgetting that we are individuals dependent upon community? I fear that we have been so busy labeling each other that we have neglected the deep work of sympathy and compassion. Compassion requires the work of looking at the circumstances of someone other than ourselves. To show sympathy requires that I think about the feelings and particular situation of another. I must take the other as an individual with unique circumstances in order to care for them where THEY are at in life.
So much of our division right now as a culture is driven by a lack of commitment to listen to and understand the other as a particular person. Anti-maskers, pro-maskers, anti-vaxxers, pro-vaxxers, democrats, republicans, gays, straights, people with more melanin, and people who are melanin deprived . . . We are all humans with very unique life experiences that bring us to where we live. We should listen more. We should hear where a person has walked for better understanding for why they stand where they stand.
I am not suggesting that this will change the truth and result in agreement on these tough issues. But I do believe that listening with sympathy and compassion will result in more civility. We will always have disagreements. But I believe that disagreements without understanding and compassion has led us to this moment of deep divisions.
This year has hit everyone in a very different and unique way. There are good reasons that a person may disagree with my assessment of masks, vaccines, and how soon we should all just be over this. We can sling out our own set of “scientific data” to support us against “them” or we could sling a little more compassion and a little more understanding. I am going to be trying to listen a little better and love a little more during this transition back to an increasing “normal”. Let’s give a little more room for everyone who has been hit different this year by this pandemic.