REFLECTION: The learning of two different cultures

Joan Chittister, osbby Joan Chittister, osb
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

We talk a lot about listening to the ideas of people whose life situations are different than ours but, in truth, it’s often a very difficult thing to do. We all live in little self-funded modern ghettoes where the people in our neighborhoods are just like us.

We mix with our kind of people, wear the same kind of clothes, work in the same kinds of places, do the same kind of things, have the same kind of educational background, and talk about the same subjects. And why not? After all, if truth were known, we seldom find ourselves in anybody else’s neighborhood. And so we seldom if ever find ourselves in a situation where we can learn what the rest of the world has to teach us.

So, we bloom where we are planted. We travel in predictable patterns. We seldom mix with cultures not our own. Which is why last week was a special gift for me.

I was having breakfast with an African-American mother whose oldest child, her son, had been murdered in an outburst of gunfire that has become so common in a society now armed to the teeth.

The trial will begin in May — probably a short one because there is so little mystery about it. It was simply a long night in a bar that ended in a short argument and death. What was unusual was the mother herself. “I don’t judge,” she said. “God will have to do that.” Then, after a bit of silence, “I just tell my family that we bear the loss but the other family will have to bear the shame. And that will be even harder.”...

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