I have some family members and acquaintances who never seem to communicate with anyone outside of their little comfort zone. Except for the briefest of casual encounters, they don’t deal with people who are “beneath” their economic or social status; they don’t relate to anyone outside of their own business or hobby. They don’t spend time with anyone of other faiths or try to understand those with different values. They don’t have to let anyone into their little inner circle unless they choose to do so. They go about their merry way thinking that their wonderful little self-centered faction represents the way things are, or perhaps should be, out here in the real world. They have the money and means to do what they want when they want to and they don’t understand what’s wrong with the rest of us.
We all know there are natural separations in society, based mostly on financial status. There are neighborhoods where I’m just NOT going to be welcome, even if someone gives me the code to the front gate. But people also tend to sort themselves out by occupation, sports affiliations, hobbies, religions, even age. There are only so many hours in the day and we tend to establish routines that put us in the company of others with similar interests and values. For the most part we don’t have the time or energy to spend on anyone else. While that results in a certain degree of comfort and security, it can also give us tunnel vision if we aren’t careful. And when my tunnel vision encounters your tunnel vision, someone is going to be unhappy!
It has been one of the greatest blessings and challenges of my life to work in a profession where I must not only encounter people of every variety imaginable, but try to build a rapport with them, communicate with them, and help them through the education process. God has put so many people in my path that I would never have met in any other setting. And I have spent many hours in prayer and contemplation trying to figure out how to relate to them. I usually find myself falling back on my favorite explanation: they are doing the best they can, where they are, with what they have. It’s my job to figure out what they are lacking- knowledge, motivation, time, energy, health, morals, environment, money- that is hindering their ability to support and encourage their child. Then I have to decide what can be changed and what must be accepted. Acceptance is always my downfall!
Yes, there are times when I might fall prey to envy of those who live in an insulated world of their own making, but I know that I’m a better person for having met the people God has put in my path.