Breaking Down the Barriers That Divide Us
Have you ever watched the ABC reality show entitled, Wife Swap? Sad to say, my wife and I are reality TV junkies. We watch way too much television to begin with; but then we lower our standards even further by watching the worst of the worst…reality TV. I digress…this Wife Swap is interesting to watch from a psychological standpoint, so I am going to tell you that I am doing “research” when I am watching it…but we both know that I am killing time, and most likely, brain cells.
Anyway, the premise of the show is to switch wives for a week with other families. To make the show more interesting and confrontational, the show deposits these wives in a polar-opposite situations than they are used to. As an example, they will transpose a wife from a very religious family into a family with no faith experience. They will drop off a mom from an upscale urban area and make them spend a week in a broken-down farmhouse out in the sticks, and the rural mom ends up completely out of her element as well, being a “city-slicker” for a week. So you get the picture, right?
What is interesting is that in the early part of the week, the wives and the families butt heads as their differences in lifestyle far out-weigh any commonality they might share. The more drama and anger directed at each other…the better the show; at least that is what the producers are hoping for. At the beginning of the stay, the wife is to follow the rules of the household she is in. Midway through the stay, the family has to live by the wife’s rules. So both groups get a brief glimpse of how the other half lives.
By week’s end, the wives and families begin to see that the differences they have are superficial. While each family has a different approach to reaching their goals…as humans they just all want the same thing. They just want to provide for their families, have some security from the world, and to be at peace with their families and neighbors.
Along the same lines, several years ago I was watching a television program about Muslims and Jews attending the same grief center in the Middle East. Each attended group therapy with families from their own faith who had suffered the loss of a child due to the violence between the two groups. What was interesting was as the various groups entered, and left the building after their respective sessions; they began to interact with each other. Out of those interactions they began to see each other as human beings…not as monsters. While their faith was a distinction, the bond they shared as parents suffering the loss of a child was a bridge upon which they could learn to first tolerate each other…then respect each other…and finally to become friends with each other.
My wife and I adopted a six-year old girl from El Salvador decades ago, and one of things that fascinated me was watching her play with her dolls and doll house. Her skin didn’t match mine, we didn’t speak the same language, we came from completely different circumstances…and yet, she played with those toys as any American child would. Over time, Gina cried over the same things our biological children would be upset over. She would be happy about the same things. When she would fall and scrape her knee, her blood was the same color as the other children. Her tears were just as wet.
If we could ever get to the point where we could just look at each other and see that we were all created by the same God, how much better would our world be? How great would it be if our skin color, or faith, our sexual orientation, our country of origin didn’t matter anymore? What would the world be like if we could put down the rocks and the guns and see that we are brothers and sisters?
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa