At 5’9 (1.8 meters) I stand out in Asia. It is not uncommon for me to be one of the tallest people even on the subway. Today as I was walking in the subway, I passed 2 people who I am at least a foot taller than. I passed one grandma who I was easily a foot and a half taller than.
Seeing these shorter people got me thinking about how blessed I am. I hit the genetic and family background jackpot which allowed me to be so tall. I could not control my genetic heritage which contributed to my height. Equally, I could not control the socioeconomic or geographic reality of the family I was born into. I was blessed to be raised in America by parents who were financially stable enough to provide 3 meal (with protein) a day. The people I passed in the subway are genetically inclined to be shorter than I am, but their family background not afford them the same nutritional opportunities that I have.
The height difference between me and the grandma were entirely out of our control. She could not control being born in the Chinese countryside any more than I could control being born in suburban, middle class America. It got me thinking that human beings are very good at judging people for things outside of their control. Look at the news and the main immigration platforms coming out of the US Presidential election. The rhetoric of fear is pervasive. The vast majority of the things that people are afraid of are things that are uncontrollable (place of birth, economic resources, parent’s religion, access to education). It breaks my heart to see so many people being judged for things outside of their control, things they could not change even if they wanted to.
My hope is that as the human race we will stop categorizing people and criticizing them for genetic realities. Instead of broadly condemning entire classes of people as other and evil, I hope that we will being to build relationships and see that despite all the differences of background we have more in common than we can ever imagine. I hope that our definition of “neighbor” will expand to look more like the story of the Good Samaritan. May we see people like us and help others like we would want to be helped. May grace be extended to everyone, regardless of background.