MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

The Dignity of Difference

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It seems to me that one of the things we most fear is the stranger. And at most times in human history, most people have lived among people who are mostly pretty much the same as themselves. Today, certainly in Europe and perhaps even in America, walk down the average Main Street and you will encounter in 10 minutes more anthropological diversity than an 18th-century traveler would have encountered in a lifetime.

So you really have this huge problem of diversity. And you then go back and read the Bible and something hits you, which is we’re very familiar with the two great commands of love: Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might; love your neighbor as yourself. But the one command reiterated more than any other in the mosaic box — 36 times said the rabbis — is love the stranger for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Or to put it in a contemporary way, love the stranger because, to him, you’re a stranger. This sense that we are enlarged by the people who are different from us — we are not threatened by them — that needs cultivating, can be cultivated, and would lead us to see the 21st century as full of blessing, not full of fear.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks


Written by MattAndJojang

December 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm

2 Responses

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  1. What a wonderful and timely post. I wish I could post it in the mailbox of everyone who’s currently involved in what one poster called “the Christmas wars”. I suppose the easiest way to explain that is secularists and atheists vs. Christians, although there obviously are hundreds of variations.

    The photo is just wonderful. It’s the same dynamic as the presence of the Goth character, Abby, on the television program NCIS. In appearance, she’s the most stereotypical and “strange”. In the program, she’s one of the smartest and most loving. The good rabbi’s point, exactly.


    December 12, 2010 at 12:49 am

  2. We normally gravitate towards people who are like us, and we exclude those who are different from us. Sometimes we even attack people who are different from us. The so-called “Christmas wars” is a clear illustration of this.

    I am, of course, aware that it is quite a challenge to be open and accepting of other people’s points of view especially when they’re different from ours. But, personally, I’ve always learned something whenever I took the time and effort to listen to the point of view of others.

    I may not agree with what they’re saying, but learning to accept and respect them has always broadened my perspective and enriched me as a human being.

    May we learn not only to accept our differences, but also to celebrate them!



    December 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

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