To look at us, we were different in more ways than we were alike. I was a small, skinny white woman of a certain age, devoid of makeup, hair slicked back in a thin ponytail. She was a voluptuous black woman, decades younger than me, wearing long, lovely eyelashes, hair braided and twined around her head. She greeted me pleasantly as I approached the check-out counter.
In my arms, I carried too many bottles of vitamins and supplements. The store was having a buy-one/get-one sale, and I was stocking up. She cheerfully began scanning my items.
“This is exactly the one I use,” she said, holding up one of the bottles of melatonin.
“Oh, cool,” I said, “makes it so much easier to get a good night’s sleep.”
“You know what makes it even better?” she asked, eyes bright with excitement. “Listening to rain sounds.”
“YES, I do that too! I have a little sound machine, and the only sound I use is rain! That’s why I find it so hard to wake up on a day like today when it’s actually raining outside.”
“Exactly!” she agreed.
Behind our COVID masks, we grinned at each other from ear loop to ear loop. As I completed my transaction, we bid each other good-bye with affirmations of “Have a great day.”
“What a joyful encounter,” I thought as I walked across the parking lot to my car. “If we looked for what we have in common instead of what we don’t, we’d all be so much better off.”
And just like that, I remembered that Unity co-founder, Charles Fillmore, was reported to have given sound advice along these lines many years ago. Early in my two years of ministerial education at Unity School of Practical Christianity, I heard that once upon a time, “Papa Charley,” as he was called, had urged us not to argue with those who held different beliefs than we did. Instead, he offered, we should always search out those things that we held in common.
Advice given nearly 100 years ago, yet perhaps never more relevant than now. Instead of focusing on what we don’t agree on, let’s look for the things we hold in common. When differences arise, agree to disagree without anger. Anger, like all negative emotions, arises from the human ego – and we are so much more than that. We are all members of the One Human Family, endowed with the potential to reveal our Divine Selves at any moment. Let’s help each other radiate the Divine instead of berating humankind – no matter how it’s showing up!
Rev. Jean DeBarbieris
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