The miracle of meeting different people

Recently I had surgery.  In an attempt to help with my recovery, I have been walking a little each day.  And in the midst of the holiday season, I have chosen to walk inside large shopping malls.  So each day I drove to a different mall, and what occured has been informative and inspirational, whether at Mayfair, Bayshore, Brookfield Square, or Southridge.

I'd walk a little, and then sit and rest in one of the rest areas inside the mall.  Seated there, I watched a wide variety of humanity walk passed.  I wondered about each of the myriad personal stories etched on the variety of faces, the spectrum of ages, the roles being played by mother, grandparent, little child, mall security guard, ad infinitum.  They represented all ages, all races, and as many ethinicities as one could imagine.

Rather than sit stoically, I began conversations as I was seated.  Usually I opened with a joke or funny observation.  It broke the ice in just about every instance.  What amazed me most was how inaccurate I was in evaluating and judging each individual before engaging in conversation.

Upon exchanging words, ideas, jokes, personal histories, holiday woes, holiday happiness, etc. I usually drew a far different mind-picture of the individual persons.  I only got a little, true glimpse into who they actually are by conversing.  What a delight!  And surprisingly how willing the people were, after a little while, to share what made them tick and how they saw life.  A revelation.

How applicable to life in general have been these little vignettes of life.  I cherish them.  They made walking and "exercising" very tolerable.  How revelatory it has been.  I can't wait to get back to another mall tomorrow.

Now as I watch the faces walk passed me in the malls, I no longer make sweeping judgments.  I realize how we do this judging unconsciously.  And how stories and myths from our individual lives make us draw so many erroneous conclusions.  We have been set up to make wrong judgments.  And when not more open in our interchange with people different than ourselves --the "other"-- how mistaken we can be in how we think of them or judge them.

If we are ever going to overcome our individual prejudices and bigotry, we shall have to find our own equivalent of my shopping mall meetings to find the truth in the human make-up.  This includes, but is not limited to, race, age, religion, gender, ethnicity, size, etc.  Too often we simply don't know the people or thing we hate or fear.  We owe it to humanity and to ourselves to open the door of our human experiences wider, and let the light of getting to know the "other" shine on each of us.

This is truly a way to bring Joy to the World.

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