A great song by The Who and a great starting point for a discussion.
First, an admission—I have a bias toward St. Francis of Assisi—in fact my middle name is due to him. Francis was born wealthy, a spoiled kid and a great partier until he had a message in which Jesus told him, “My church is broken, fix it.”
Francis was aware of an abandoned chapel nearby that was falling apart, so Francis stole some of his father’s merchandise with the intention of selling/trading it for building materials. His father, a practical and proper businessman, was not happy and brought his son before the local bishop for judgment. Francis’s response was to remove the clothing his father had provided, proclaim that his only father was God, and walk away; fortunately for those in the area, he soon found a castoff brown cloak, a piece of rope to use as a belt, and eventually, sandals.
While his whole life was fascinating, I’m going to skip to one particular aspect. Once Francis had abandoned material possessions, except for the barest of essentials, his followers figured that the rich should be snubbed. Francis saw otherwise. Francis taught that each person should be seen as an individual—regardless.
I try to follow his lead and see individuals.
Unfortunately, we insist on putting everyone into pigeonholes?
Have you ever examined a pigeon hole? A house I moved into had a shed formerly used as a pigeon coop. Pigeon holes? Disgusting!
Why do we take a perfectly good individual and stuff him into the “Polish-German-Catholic” or her into “Scottish-English-Cajun” pigeonholes? What about “Afro-American Baptists” or “LGBT-peanut allergy-clog dancers?” I am quite different from every other person stuffed into my pigeonhole, and suspect the same is true for everyone.
I prefer to do as Francis advised—to see Bill, Mary, John, Joneta, Abdul, Anjali, and Hina each as a person, rather than as part of a category.
And pigeonholes? Avoid them—they are nasty!