Soon we will gather around our Thanksgiving tables, expressing gratitude for the good things in our lives. We will probably be sitting with those who share with us more similarities than differences. For some reason, this Thanksgiving, I am thinking about “The Other.”
The Other are those who are socially, economically, politically, religiously or simply just different from us. Not only do we not connect with them, but we may make them bad in order for us to be good.
This Thanksgiving season, I am going to test myself by giving thanks to The Other. This means that I am going to need to pay more attention to the similarities I have with them than the differences.
The writer and theologian Thomas Merton said, “We never see the one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems: that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggression and hypocrisy.”
Those are harsh words from a Trappist monk. But they also resonate.
This season I am going to work harder on noticing those who are struggling and try to remain open to their plight rather than judge them for it. I am not going to suggest to someone whom I don’t know that they should simply get their act together. I am not going to avoid those who at times make me uncomfortable. In fact, I am going to try to seek them out. I am going to recognize our common humanity.
On Dec. 19, Simpson Housing Services hosts a memorial march and service honoring the homeless and those who have served them who have passed away in 2019. I am again going to attend out of respect for those whose lives turned out far differently than their parents likely hoped. I would like to think that I may have seen some of them around over the years, but I may have also averted my eyes so as to not engage them. I am going to pay attention as their names are called and quietly say a prayer for each one.
I hope I can be more compassionate and generous in all aspects of my life and the lives of my clients. Because most of us who deal with money sometimes need to be reminded that money never represents our deepest values nor reflects the deeper things we share with everyone. Money can be used to bring us together or to separate us.
There really is no Other. There is only us.
Spend your life wisely.
Ross Levin is the chief executive and founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.