Broadening Understanding of Other Peoples
Our world is a diverse and complex place which pushes us to interact with people from different experiences, customs, and perspectives. One response to this ‘pushing’ is to retreat into a like minded group and ignore those who are different. Another response is to see the beauty in the differences and open ourselves up to learn more about others. Next Monday is Martin Luther King Day which is an annual challenge for all of us to broaden our perspective and to choose to value others. My son is reading “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” which tells the Native American perspective of the “settling of America”. On my web site at http://www.wallaceresources.us/HispanicCulture.html I have an article by Bernice Rivera that sets out some Hispanic cultural traits and perspectives.
As followers of Christ, the Savior of the World, we are part of a community that includes people from all parts of the globe and cultural groups. As a result we need to look at how can we encourage a world-wide and inclusive perspective in our congregations? Jesus came to save all people so don’t we need to work to understand one another; what hurts, fears and joys have been experienced? What are you doing to help build bridges of understanding and appreciation among groups?
Here are a few ideas of where we can start:
*Have members of various cultures/groups write an article about their customs, perspective, emphasis and the things that have influenced them.
*Familiarize yourself and your congregation to the important dates and events for other cultural groups. *Create a reading list that can help provide insights into other’s experiences. You can also utilize the arts as a place for discussion or insight (e.g. paintings, movies, music). The movie “The Help” is one such example that could be used.
*In the use of visual media be sure to utilize individuals from various groups, ages and from both sexes.
*Create events where the customs of different groups are highlighted. One year our congregation celebrated Christmas customs from around the world. We researched and put a good deal of effort into making these experiences authentic. Be sure not to fall into untrue stereotypes.
*Challenge racist or demeaning comments toward other groups or cultures. Perhaps use these as opportunities lovingly to move people toward each other.
*Get an outside perspective on how your congregation is or isn’t inclusive to other groups or cultures.
*What other ideas do you have? Let me know what you have done or think would be good to do to help us build bridges with others parts of Christ’s Body from around the world.