Anne Merdinger: Look for the common humanity |

Anne Merdinger: Look for the common humanity

Today I finished my final six hour shift volunteering for the free yard waste drop off in Grass Valley.

Now some of you might not think that standing in the sun, directing traffic (mostly large trucks, many towing trailers) in and out through a one-lane entrance/exit, answering questions, checking loads, and smiling and waving all day would be your idea of fun.

But I think you might be surprised how wonderful the experience can be. This is what I experienced: beautiful faces, sweet smiles, kind words of appreciation and calm patience (at times there was a waiting line to get out of the drop off area … incoming always takes priority to get vehicles safely off the highway). Some people came back so many times, they shared their triumphs with me (“27th load and I’m finally done!”).

So, it was great, and got me thinking about something. I would guess that a significant percentage of the people I was interacting with so positively do not share my political views. And it didn’t matter a whit. We all come to our perspectives through our histories, our personal experiences and interactions.

Growing up in Berkeley with the benefit of a loving, welcoming family shaped me as much as someone living in a very different kind of family or community is shaped by that environment. But we have a common humanity. We can’t reach people by hating them and not seeing them as fully human as we see ourselves. We want to change the way things are in this country, and we are right to challenge injustice in all its forms.

But clumping all people we disagree with into a group and labeling them with nasty names and hating on them … that’s really not going to work, for us or for them.

So, I challenge each of us to find a way to be kind to someone we don’t agree with.

Look for the common humanity, and smile. You might be surprised what happens.

Anne Merdinger lives in Nevada City.

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