Seeing the Sacredness



People often ask “What political party do you belong to?’ “What religion are you?”

In using labels, we get into this duality: am I a this or a that, as opposed to a human being? We all like to know who people are. We like to say, “He’s a this, she’s a that”. Then we think we know who they are.

All labels are restricting, though. They’re hard to wear. They’re hard to wear because we’re always growing. We don’t have a fixed definition, and this process of living is evolving us all the time.

It’s much easier to lose sight of our oneness and to feel separated from each other if we depersonalize and dehumanize each other. Once a person is labeled as “not like us”, the rules of civilized behavior no longer apply. Then we can justify feelings of unforgiveness and separation. It’s easy to erase “insurgents”, “enemy combatants”, terrorists”, and “protesters”. In   Afghanistan, our soldiers call the enemy “rats”. Psychologically, humans can kill rats much more easily than they can kill hungry, tired, frightened, young people much like themselves. Once we have a label that doesn’t fit us, we can ignore the humanity of the labeled.

Labels encourage us to have a disposable mind-set: disposable products, disposable species, disposable people. We don’t see our brothers and sisters, much less all the animal species, as sacred. When we are in the presence of something we consider sacred, the natural response is to be humble and respectful and careful.

When we do see the sacredness of each other, we can begin to feel the failings and foolishness, the wonders and joy of being alive and being connected to one another. We see that those “other beings” aren’t really others after all; they are us and we are them.




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