It should go without being said that all people matter in our society. No matter one’s race, ethnicity, creed, religion, or socio-economic status, all people are unique and significant. Every person is also entitled to his or her opinion and freedom to express that opinion.
Unfortunately, the idea of civility has been thrown out the window in favor of divisive ideology that subtly says all people are not equal and that some people matter less than others or do not matter at all. Instead of kindness, we allow hate speech. Instead of respect, we allow intolerance. Instead of dignity, we allow unfairness. And we wonder why we have so many problems but so few solutions.
We were taught as young children to show kindness and express empathy when others are hurting to which Roger Ebert says, “You are a lucky child if your parents taught you to accept diversity.” However, we’ve basically forgotten those lessons as adults. Most of the time, we don’t regard people at all. We don’t think about how they might feel before we make a decision or how something we do might impact them. This inconsiderate behavior stretches from the local city council all the way to D.C. government.
In our everyday lives too, we rarely show regard for others. We avoid eye contact. We fail to use words such as “thank you”, “please”, and “have a nice day.” We see people who are different as less-than. We only seem to regard other people when we want something or take notice of others when they do something to hurt us. Instinctively, we know that this is wrong but we do it anyway — intentionally and unintentionally.
We can’t protest discrimination, inequality, and racism if we’re not willing to love and respect all people for who they are and not for who we want them to be. We can’t profess love for country if we don’t also love the people in that country. No country would exist without its citizens. To focus on an issue without giving thought to the base solution is counterproductive.
People matter because God took the time to make each and every one of us just the way we are. When we express anything other than love and appreciation for another human being, we reject God’s gift to the world. The really important victory of humanity is not that we simply overcome our biases, but that we learn to love.
Martin Luther King Jr., said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Truth and love are the best deterrents to our biases and our disregard for humanity. First Corinthians 16:14 urges us to “Do everything with love.” Whether these values prevail in our world begin with an intentional inner cultivation. We speak the truth. We express love. We treat people like they matter…because they do.