A Call to Empathy & Solidarity

World events, and those more locally, are reminding me of this universal truth: Each of us matters. Regardless of race, creed, social standing, sexual preference, religious affiliation, political views, we matter to God, we matter to our families, we matter to our friends, and we matter to ourselves. Our lives and livelihoods are intended to serve and honor Almighty God and our fellow humans. Creation declares the glory of God. Scripture repeats this mantra in myriad ways and forms. From time immemorial across any number of geographical and political boundaries, God has provided evidence of that glory. And humanity becomes the crowning jewel of that glory.

If Creation declares God’s glory and humanity is God’s crowning achievement, why do human beings effectively make a distinction between human beings, as if they have the right to critique the choices made by humanity’s Creator. This posturing doesn’t make any sense.

Humans may speak of each other as if they are somehow different from one another, perhaps to advertise some quality about themselves worthy of being loved. Humans may also speak ill of others to highlight something they consider worthy in themselves. Yet, this kind of human advertisement is misleading. Consider: a human being speaking ill of another human being may as well be speaking of herself, the essential elements of self being scrutinized in the critique or advertisement. The advertisement may as well read, “I am not being loved because no one finds me worthy. But I am worthy, because of _______.”

The truth of the matter is that humans are inherently worthy of honor and dignity, not because of their own doing or their own set of qualities, but because the Creator of human beings has thought highly enough of them to create them in the first place. Consider: When a human being invents something new, or creates a product, there must (necessarily) be some value in doing so. Otherwise, the energy infused into the invention or product is wasted and unnecessary, which, when truly thought through, means there would not be any logical reason for it to be created at all. Are human beings just so much rubbish? Nonsense. Any creative energy needed to produce a product or invention inherently denotes value, even if that value is only in the eye of the creator. It follows that human beings are conceived with some inherent worth, with no other strings necessarily attached. One cannot help but think this is what Jesus is admonishing his followers to consider when he says in the Scriptures, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

If all life is worthy of creation, then all life matters, no matter how fragile or strong. Thus it follows that the dignity of God’s creation, and ultimately the dignity of the human being, comes not from any merit or genetic disposition, but because human beings possess an otherness created in light of the Creator’s choice to love creation. The default setting of life, then, is one based on love and providence. Humans begin life desiring love and nurture, and the humans caring for it provide for its survival. Love is ultimately what a baby desires from its caregiver, often reciprocated by the caregiver. Unfortunately, as humans grow and learn, this insatiable desire for love is violated by other love-seeking human beings through ignorance, carelessness or malicious intent. Learning empathy helps one see the reality of the human condition, and assists in restoring the delicate balance of love in the world. Empathy may lead to sympathy — or solidarity — with the hurting and marginalized, or it may provide a means to that end. And when we humans align our sympathies with each other, we come to recognize that our differences pale in comparison to our common traits; we recognize the Immanuel living within, gifted to us from the beginning. May we never forget this truth: Each of us matters. Each of us is called to love.