February 7

Today's quotation:

It is a form of violence, to not see a being for who he or she
really is.  You think, "Oh, that's my son."  But the lens, "my
son, " completely obliterates the multi-dimensions of that
being.  Maybe you only see your disappointments in that child,
or you aspirations for that child, but that's not the child.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Today's Meditation:

Labels aren't exactly a positive thing--in fact, they can be very damaging to us.  We use them all the time to provide ourselves with a certain level of comfort that comes from "knowing" about something, as the unknown tends to frighten us a bit, or at least make us a bit uncomfortable.

But as soon as we label something, it loses its uniqueness.  If I see a 65-year-old man on the street and consider him to be "an old man," I immediately attribute to him my idea of what an old man is.  And my idea definitely is not valid for anyone, for it's been developed over the years as a composite idea based on people of that age whom I've known.

But what kinds of thoughts does this man think?  Who are the people who love him, and what do they love most about him?  What kinds of challenges has he faced in his life, and how has he overcome them?  Whose lives has he made easier?  More difficult?  What are his greatest fears?  Why?

We label almost everyone we meet:  boss, worker, cashier, supervisor, housewife, son, daughter, neighbor, pastor, police officer, teacher.  And with those labels come our ideas of what the people probably are like.  But when we do this we blind ourselves to their true nature, and both of us lose out because we never find it necessary to take the time to get to know the person in a true fashion.  There are few things we can do in life to make others feel their value as getting to know them, finding out more about them, learning about who they are as human beings rather than who we think they are.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to see people through the filters of our own labels?

What are some of the difficulties involved in truly getting to know another person?

How many people do you know in a deeper way than normal?  How did you get to know them?

For further thought:

It's amazing what ordinary people can do if they
set out without preconceived notions.

Charles Kettering


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