And then there are those “other” people

April 29, 2015

It hurts to be judged and rejected by those who view you as an outsider or as part of the “other” group. The news is filled with stories such as: A cop abuses a woman; authorities shoot yet another young African-American male; a soldier accidentally kills an innocent person, etc. You can fill in the blank.

We hear about these horrible cases of abuse, and yet we barely bat an eye. We just shrug it off thinking, “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me.” Then we turn the page and read the next news story without ever feeling the spiritual connection we have with all people.

Sometimes it helps when we are able to relate to someone else’s situation. Perhaps you can think of a time when you were misjudged and viewed as the “other.” How did you feel? What was that experience like for you?

I can recall such an experience from my life. As I share this personal story, try to put yourself in my shoes and emotionally connect with me.

I was all of 18 years old and had just moved out of my parent’s house to take a job in another town. Aside from not knowing a single soul in the whole town, I also had the arduous task of finding a new church. Once deciding on a place, I arrived early and sat in the back. As the church slowly filled up, I was surprised no one sat next to me throughout the whole service.

I spent the next week thinking about whether I should take it personally. After much contemplation, I figured that the best way to avoid this issue was to show up after everyone else had already sat down, and then pick a seat in a more populated area.

I arrived a few minutes before the service started and quietly walked up to the front of the church—the only place where open seats were still available—and picked a spot next to two older women. They had bluish-grey hair, deep wrinkles, and a shawl around their shoulders. They looked to me to be the typical kindly grandmother type.

They looked at me with a scowl, clutched their purses, tightened their lips with disapproval, got up and moved. They shot me a dirty look as if I was some kind of a punk trying to rob them. Since this took place in the front of the church, the whole congregation saw it.

I felt embarrassed and hurt. No one likes to be judged—especially when you are the new person just looking for a place to fit in. This type of rejection cuts deep, and I would be willing to bet that you, too, have a few stories of your own about rejection.

It is hurtful to prejudge someone and cast that person into the category of being one of those “other” people. Since you know what that feels like, do you really want to inflict that pain on someone else?

I have been able to forgive the people who hurt me, and yet I have not been back to that church ever since. It’s not because of resentment or bitterness. Rather, I have chosen instead to surround myself with compassionate individuals who let the love of the Creator flow through them to others, and I reciprocate in-kind.

Today’s Loving Suggestion: Make an effort to emotionally connect with others who seem different from you. As you drive down the street and view people on the sidewalk, imagine those people are members of your family. Try to picture their life situation. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you had their life?

This way of viewing others will help you connect with people that you would otherwise dismiss as being too dissimilar to bother trying to understand. You can find commonality in everyone because we are all human. As humans, we share the same basic needs—love, security, belonging, self-worth, etc. As the Buddhists say, “I am you. You are me. And together, we are one.”

If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.

The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.

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