When was the last time you felt like you were, “other”. You know how on applications there is that box now to check if you are “other?” I”m not sure what that means or what it’s supposed to measure. Other what? If I was a martian or robot in disguise, I sure as sugar wouldn’t pick other.
The college I attended was unique. It was geared toward letting students who were not caucasian stand out and be seen. I’ll give you an example. One year, out of 900 freshman students who were accepted, there were only 12 African American students accepted. I thought it was a typo and it was supposed to read 12%. Nope, 12 people out of NINE HUNDRED. Good grief!
A Raisin In A Bowl Of Milk
So my freshman year, I was involved in quite a few organizations. I needed something to keep me out of trouble, so I became heavily involed in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (Which I later found out had nothing to do with sports. Although we had an outstanding ultimate frisbee team. “Jim watch out for that tree!!”)
The first time at Large Group (the weekly get together, about 75 people), I didn’t know the songs everyone was singing, I didn’t know anyone there, and I was akin to a raisin in a bowl of milk. I skipped the next week’s large group, but felt bad about it. Spankin’ guilt, where do you come from?
The third week, I sat in the back, mouthed the words to some songs, listened to the speaker, and was ready to bounce for good. I figured, I gave it a shot, this isn’t for me. I’m turning to walk out when I hear my name being shouted like you would shout across the room at your friend as she was about to talk to “that guy.”
“Hi, I’m Chris!”
“Hi, I’m Fer!”
“Welcome to IV we’re glad your here slkehoighapoith small group sjoeihgoingaoi freshman retreat fheoirgfhp…”
They were talking so fast, I could only make out a few words. The guy Chris looked kinda familiar to me, and I didn’t know Fer (It is short for Jennifer. I know a lot, a lot of Jennifers). Who knew they knew my name, much less they would run at me, yelling my name to say hi and give a welcome.
We all shook hands, I left, and came back every week for years. I made lifelong friends, guys who were in my wedding kind of friends, and had a lot of amazing experiences (Except for the time I accidentally mooned all 75 people. Wardrobe malfunction!)
Celebrate The Similarities, Learn From Our Differences
We all meet people who don’t think like us, talk like us, look like us, believe like us, etc. We all too have been “other” in a given situation. We all want to be accepted for who we are, probably more than we want to be understood.
If we took the extra step to care, to find out someone’s name and yell it out loud. To run after someone with a smile and a hello. To get out of our comfort zones and spankin’ make an effort, we won’t know what the outcome will be.
We could change the course of history with a smile and a hello, of making someone feel less other and more accepted. Who cares about our differences? Who honestly give a flying squirrel fart if someone lives their life differently or has a different world view than we do?
We are all human. Treat someone like a human and not “other” and I bet you great things will happen.
Yes, we know this, of course we do. But knowing something and doing something about it is as far apart as being accepted and being treated as “other”.