We are at our best when we are aware we aren’t always at our best.
I heard this GREAT bit on a podcast yesterday. The host told the guest “You do something that I really struggle with – how do you interview people who you know are garbage?”
(Set aside for a moment how problematic it is to think of others as garbage, and how much worse it is to say it out loud. Then pick up a stone to throw if you have never, ever, felt that way about someone else.)
I invite you to set aside your offense or grumbling or even guessing what I was listening to or which “side” was calling the other “garbage. If you’re having trouble doing so, okay, but the really important thing is what happened next.
The person being interviewed replied “Oh, maybe because I’m garbage too?” In other words, we are at our best when we are aware that we aren’t always at our best.
When we think ourselves superior to other people, it is really easy to look down on them. When we think of others as inferior to ourselves, it is really easy to look down on them. I’m not sure these two are the same; they may indeed be. That’s a matter for another discussion.
In church world, where I live, work, and spend too much of my time, we are collectively really good at looking down on other people. We can take a snapshot of them when we drive by, or see their neighborhood, or hear a story about them. Distant from us, apart from us, abstracted from us, we find it too easy to prescribe what would fix their problems. We don’t even have to know what they think the problems are!
From that distance, it is easy to think of someone else as garbage. And we cannot think of someone else as garbage and at the same time treat them as a human being.
So I am grateful for that snippet of conversation on a podcast that reminded me that IF I catch myself thinking of anyone else as garbage, the best thing for me to do is to remember that I’ve got some garbage in me, too.
I wonder sometimes who might think of me as garbage. For this very reason, I often withhold from others what I really think and how I really feel. Which, as I typed that out, made me realize that sometimes I treat myself like garbage.
Maybe that’s it; none of us are garbage or all of us are garbage.
For as long as we share this world, I think it will help us to remember that we are at our best when we realize we are not always at our best.