I walk into the house last night and two of our dogs were chasing each other in playful glee. They quickly ran from one side of the house to the other, while the faster of the two seemingly ran on air. Yipping, barking and growling....they seemed to be having the time of their lives. It reminded me our days living in an apartment, before we had a yard. We'd leash the dogs up and take them to the dog park. It was always interesting to watch because we'd arrive to find several dogs already at the park, having a great time. Suddenly, they'd see our dogs arrive and would all converge upon them, greeting by the usual sniffing and wagging of tails. Before we knew it, our dogs would also be involved in the play and it was as if all of the dogs had always been the best of friends.
Children can also often be the same. While serving as the Youth and Family Director at my previous church, I remember a new child, Sally walking into the classroom for the first time. She was early and the first child to arrive and seemed very nervous to be there. Tentatively, she asked me if I had some crayons so that she could color. As I gathered up the supplies, another child, Sandy entered the room. Sandy had been there multiple times so walked in, helped herself to crayons and began to color. I introduced them and before long, they began trading shy glances at each other. By the end of class that day, they seemed to be the best of friends and their parents had to pry them apart when it was time to go home. I noticed that the children didn't seem to notice different skin colors, hair styles, or clothing preference. They seemed to only notice another child, perhaps another friend, another person ready for play and laughter.
Adults on the other hand? We don't quite immediately mesh the same way that dogs and children do. Put several of us in a space where we don't know each other and we'll sometimes glance around, not even seeming to notice the people around us or, have our faces buried into our smartphones. Work brings about its own set of circumstances as we become stressed and work hard to out-perform the person next to us, always trying to get ahead of each other.
We lose that sense of oneness and play somewhere along the way. Other people become our competition, someone that may be in our way of rising to the top, who may get the latest and greatest piece of technology that we feel we can't afford, the person we envy because they seem to "have it all" or any number of things. Some of those other people become those we fear will betray us or hurt us in some other way.
It can be any number of scenarios but the main thing is, is that we lose the sense of who we really are and become completely isolated and separate from everyone else. We allow ourselves to become tainted by our experiences in life. We begin to lose trust in others. I sometimes watch people in places such as waiting rooms, heads buried in smart phones and I wonder....what would happen if one person walked up to the other and say, "I have this great new game on my phone. Would you like to check it out with me?" Or what might happen if one person in an airport walks up to another and says, "I'm about to take a short walk to stretch my legs. Would you like to join me?" There might initially be an untrusting look or complete surprise but what if we were to remember back to the days of our childhoods, the days where we looked beyond another person as our competitor? What if everyone were to begin doing this? Would it eventually catch on and become the norm? How would the world become? Could we begin to look beyond borders, country of origin, skin color, hair style, clothing types and costs?
Would we, or could we begin to change the world?