Finding Faith: None of us are really 'others'
"It would serve us well to remember ... You have never looked into the eyes of a person God doesn’t love."
The 2021 movie “The Survivor” is a harrowing reminder of what happens when we continue to allow ourselves to “other” those people whom we see as different then us.
I recently struggled through each minute of this gut-wrenching drama that tells the story of Harry Haft, a survivor of a German concentration camp. Under the threat of death, Haft was forced to box against fellow inmates to survive.
I won’t share more of the plot than that, because I think everyone should watch this movie as a reminder as to the horrifying outcomes when we allow ourselves to create groups of “others.”
What Nazi Germany did during the Holocaust to Jews, enemies of the state, people who were disabled, those who were gay, and many more, is an extreme example of “othering,” and how it becomes easy-peasy to see “others” as less than human. And this extreme historical example demonstrates how the “othering” process makes it easy for us to commit any atrocity imaginable to people we find different.
I know. I can hear what some of you are thinking. But that was the Holocaust, some 70-plus years ago. What’s the relevance to today?
Well, our recent civil engagement with each other is enough of an alarm to see the comparisons. The political strife that has reached boiling points because of our tendency to “other” people. The fights over human rights for those of color, those with disabilities, those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and for women are still battlegrounds on which many people are “othered.”
And maybe the most disturbing evidence of the continued “othering” of others is the continued onslaught of gun violence. After all, it makes it a whole lot easier to walk into a supermarket that predominantly serves Black people and gun them down if you don’t see Blacks as people at all.
The answer, as faithful people of course, is to realize that there really are no “others” at all. If we truly believe that each of us was made in the image of the Creator, then there is no doubt each of us is intertwined. We literally are one being connected to every other being, woven together by God since the beginning of time. And this belief isn’t exclusive to the Abrahamic religions.
We are told in 1 John 3:1: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.” … But the catch is that this applies to every single person, including those whom we consider “others.”
It would serve us well to remember this scripture as the foundation of every interaction we have with one another. Because, while our human arrogance blinds us: You have never looked into the eyes of a person God doesn’t love.
Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments and story ideas.