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We were stopped at a red light driving home from town the other day when suddenly a young man in the car next to us in the center lane opened his door and jumped out running across three lanes of traffic while the young woman in the driver’s seat stared after him shaking her head. It seemed obvious there had been a disagreement of some kind, and all the way home we speculated about what had happened.

I guess that’s why Kiefer Sutherland’s (as President Tom Kirkman on Designated Survivor) comment at the end the show’s episode Wednesday night struck me. He was thanking a roomful of people for their service in the wake of an airplane hijacking and made the comment that their job had been to serve and guard the people on that plane. People, he said, who each had their stories (including his doctor friend who had died).

How many times have I sat at Starbucks scribbling away in my journal when I’ve caught snatches of conversation and wondered about the subject matter and the relationship of those talking? Have you ever done that? Has someone else’s words ever created a picture prompt in your head?

As I reflected on Kirkrman’s word “story” I started to wonder how our perception of people would change if we looked at them as “stories” rather than “others”. Especially in the political climate that’s been thrown like a shroud across this country. What would happen if we took the time to really look at someone NOT like us and tried to imagine THEIR story, put ourselves in THEIR shoes. It’s really true that you don’t know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

What would it take, I wondered, as I shut off the TV, to get people to remember that (as Ian Maclaren said) everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle wherever they fall on the spectrum. And more importantly, that everyone you meet is a reflection of yourself in some way… We all have something to learn about ourselves from everyone we meet.

Do you think we would ever be able to shift our perception of people to something more generous and respectful by considering their human stories?

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Picture Source:
red light — Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Starbucks — vietnamcentre.wordpress.com
“Others” — Pew Research Center

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