I’m definitely an Ohio boy. Having lived in the New York City and Philadelphia areas, one of the things I like about being in the mid west is how much nicer people are to strangers. Don’t get me wrong, people in New York and Philly can be very nice and mid-westerners can be rude. But there’s so much crowding and rushing around back east that people are more short-tempered with strangers sharing in their frantic lifestyle, or at least they are less likely to be courteous to them.
That’s why this clip of Steve Hartman’s On The Road segment of CBS News was so interesting to me. It reminds me of the WWI Christmas eve story where British and Germans who had been engaged in a treacherous trench warfare suddenly called an impromptu, temporary cease-fire. Their superiors heard about it and became indignant that the men cease the frivolities.
At first that didn’t make sense to me. What could be bad about a little break from the bloodshed? Then the reasoning came through: once the soldiers had a meaningful connection with the men they were fighting, they no longer wanted to engage them in battle. The didn’t have the means to end the life of someone they had taken the time to know. Their friendship had disarmed them. Eventually, all of the men involved had to be transferred to a different part of the line to battle against men they didn’t know.
It’s hard to look at people through God’s eyes when your own eyes get in the way. Life isn’t easy. It beckons us to focus on our own circumstances because it takes so much of our effort to take care of our own responsibilities. Since we’re so accustomed to seeing the world from the vantage point of our own concerns it’s natural that we don’t have time to know the concerns of other people. And when you don’t know them it’s much easier to see them as enemies rather than friends.
It was really nice to see that strangers were willing to take poses that portrayed friendship and care with people they’d never met. What this photographer did was disarm people’s defenses by having them pose as if they had a fondness for someone else. There’s something about treating someone like you love them that puts you on the road to actually doing so.
What would happen if we would take on a new pose with the people around us? Imagine if we acted as if we loved the world because God loves the world. Not only would it help our perception of them, it will attract them to the love found in Jesus Christ. One person in the video said, “We are probably missing so much about the people around us,” and another, “I felt like I cared for her.”
Steve Hartman ended with this thought:
“Most photographers capture life as it is, but in these strangers Richard Rinaldi has captured something more ethereal and elusive. He shows us humanity as it could be – as most of us wish it would be, and as it was at least for this one fleeting moment in time.”
Jesus has given his church the job to be an example to the world of humanity as it could be, or more accurately, as how Jesus died to make it. What are you going to do about that today? Start by disarming yourself and getting to know people through God’s eyes.