Huston, we’ve got a problem


In these tribalistic days of othering one another, where we have divided into left and right camps, from which we hurl our dehumanizing insults across the chasm, I have noticed how often the pronoun ‘they’ is used, eg ‘They are all a bunch of (fill in the blank)’ or ‘They all believe that’ , and I am reminded of that great teacher and keeper of the world’s wisdom traditions, Huston Smith.  As he traveled the globe, seeking to understand deeply the various religions of the world, he would move in to each culture , plunging all the way in to fully inhabit it alongside the persons who lived it.  He noted how it was that the longer he lived with the people who practiced a certain religion  the pronouns he used to speak of them changed. At the beginning it was a detached ‘they’. ‘They’ believe this or do that. As time passed, and relationships formed, the pronoun would shift to the more intimate ‘You’. ‘You’ believe or do this or that. Finally, after much time, as he discovered the shared humanity and wisdom within the other and their traditions, coming to a deeper understanding of who they were and the shared wisdom beneath what they believed or did, the pronoun would shift to ‘We’. 

I wonder how it might be if we moved in with one another, seeking understanding, in this political divide, and became We, the people.

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