Consecutive Days Riding: 32 Consecutive Days Blogging: 33
Today’s Mileage: 5 Total Trip Mileage: 292
As I rode the bike today I pondered several different theme ideas for today’s posting. Tomorrow we will commemorate Veteran’s Day and then the next day will visit a Christian Pilgrimage Site that represents the oldest European Building in the New World, predating even Columbus! So I figured I might just let today be an odds and ends day.
As we ride up the coastline of Miami Beach I am intrigued by the art deco style buildings and the ever present ribbon of cabana covered sand. It is such a different landscape from the small prairie towns where I grew up. It makes me wonder what it must have been like to grow up in an area like this. How different it is in appearance, yet similar in adventure; the ever present sea, like the streams and creeks inhabiting the edge of the small towns I lived in. We had wildlife to observe, the Miami Beach child had tourists and aging hotel inhabitants. As a teen we could always find work on a local farm, the teen in Miami most likely found work “tending to” the tourists!
Of course in other ways these places are worlds apart, the cultures (Jewish and Hispanic versus rancher and Native American), the crime rates, and the desperately different social classes. This points to an important aspect about differences that exist between people, cultures and life situations. We often view differences as roadblocks to our understanding of other people, such as race or growing up in a different religion. These features of someone’s life seem like insurmountable barriers to empathizing with another person’s joy, concerns and sorrows. However, we can also view differences as intriguing gifts or mysteries that provide us with fascinating insights into another person’s reality. I had a friend in the Navy who grew up in the LA area of Southern California. He learned to surf before he learned to ride a bike. He and his friends use to “commute” to Disneyland on a regular basis. What a wonderfully different world than my own where the closest water to town was Danker’s fish pond and the best show in town was watching tornadoes skipping across the prairie on hot summer days!
If you can turn off your judging function, the cognitive function which tries to establish which reality has more “truth” and just experience the place, you will begin to see the world through a different pair of eyes. You may also begin to understand other human beings and perhaps see their humanity!
This touches on another issue representing residue from yesterday’s visit to the Holocaust Memorial. I left the walk through the site with it’s beautiful but distressing images,with a profound sense of sadness. How can humans be so hateful towards other human beings who are just trying to get through life, raise a family and find meaning and happiness? How can we not see in their joy and pain our own life struggle? Sadly, the answer to these questions has a connection with the dehumanizing of the other individual.
As one of my site visitors pointed out, this dehumanizing was not limited to the Nazis towards the Jews, the Serbs towards the Bosnians, Ugandans Hutu towards Ugandan Tutsi or to Europeans towards Native Africans and Native Americans, to name a short list. This dehumanizing also occurs on the community and individual level. Let’s ask ourselves: why did it take so long for women to “get to vote” or African Americans to move up from the back of the bus? When a jury looks at a 13 year old boy and sentences him to life in prison for a store robbery, they are not seeing a misguided youth, a teenager like their own children rather a deviant monster and a threat to society. The effect of dehumanizing may be seen as they relate to gender, race, religion and even age.
Another of my site visitors left a comment noting that: “On the process of humanizing people. Every person loves something, is afraid of something, and has lost something.” This means that “Every person, including ourselves, is only three questions away from tears.”
I visited the Holocaust Site yesterday and was left in tears at the sight of a statue of a dead mother and her two children. They loved each other, were afraid of the growing terror and lost the most precious of gifts… their lives. We must love each other, even those strangers who are different from ourselves, be afraid of the growing intolerance and hatred towards those who are different, and realize we risk losing our humanity if we do not change the course of our shared journey.
A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.