Updated: 14 hours ago Posted: 15 hours ago
The holidays are upon us, and for many, they will be close to “normal” this year. Our family is still in near isolation until we are all eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but I am nonetheless starting to feel that same sweet scent of community that has been contained for years now: see extended family, carry on. a plane for a vacation and meet new people in a new place that can show new things.
I was dreaming about this while driving to pick up our daughter, when the radio disc jockey suddenly shared that statistically a person is more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark.
It’s been a surreal few years for American society, yet death by ATM does not seem unlikely. Before the pandemic, tribalism and stereotypes were already on the rise, with people associating only with others who shared similar political beliefs, demonizing the ‘other’, viewing themselves with suspicion and sometimes as the pure enemy and simple. Add the pandemic, with its isolation, the increased use of social media with each person’s selective slice of humanity, and it sometimes feels like these trends are only intensifying.
As I watch our non-isolated friends and family prepare for the holiday gatherings, I remember what it takes to become a community again. And that involves trying to find the common humanity in every person, from your boring uncle who comes every Thanksgiving, to the tens of thousands of people in town that you haven’t interacted with in years, and in fact. who you can never interact with on a personal level.
A good friend of mine is a pastor in Alabama and he once preached on the parable of the Good Samaritan. He stressed that we are always encouraged to imitate the Samaritan who helps the stranger. But, he asked, how much more difficult is it to be the other man, the wounded traveler who needs the help of his “enemy?” Could we afford to accept help from one of these people?
On any given day, we may all be able to offer or accept help. While there are lessons to be learned from this pandemic as well, the need to humbly give and receive help is one of them. “Normalcy” is on the horizon for many of us, and I hope we greet each other as humans who have been through hardship together, and not as one of the “them” of the post. Facebook or the talk show segment. When you cut through suspicion and righteousness with some humility, we are all human. And we can all be killed by an ATM.
Kara Sorbel lives and works in Anchorage with his family.
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