“Mommy, I’m a porcupine. Watch out!”
“Oh no! Please don’t get me with your pokey quills!”
“I won’t get you, Mommy. I like humans. My mom is a human. But my dad is a porcupine and so I’m a porcupine, too. But you better watch out, Mommy, because my dad is coming and he does nooot like humans.”
“Yeah, when he sees you, he’ll get you. He hates humans and he’s reeeally mean when he’s mad. Run, Mommy, run!”
“Ok, I’ll run, but wait a sec. Your dad doesn’t like humans?!?”
“Umm, no. He doesn’t like them aaaaat all. But…I think it’s because he just doesn’t know any.”
If we can overlook the obvious hole in the story—clearly porcu-dad must’ve “known” at least one human, and I’m certain his hatred was borne of her scorn—Charlie’s observation is profound. In one simple scene of preschool pretend play Charlie identified our problem and our solution…
Problem: Hate (See also judgment or disapproval)
Solution: Get to know that which you hate (or that of which you don’t know, or that of which you disapprove)
After recent conversations with a beloved and well-respected friend whose sociopolitical views are disparate from my own, I find in Charlie’s comment my marching orders.
I encourage you to join me in expanding your network of acquaintances or, better yet, friends, to include someone who’s your opposite in some way. Get to know someone who’s different from you—in terms of gender, race, culture, faith, sexual orientation, political belief, sports team affiliation, economic status, whatever—and try to get to know them. Even if just a little bit. And then tell me about it.
This goes for both sides of the coin, whatever your coin is. We’re all being called to open up just a smidge.
See, when a porcupine makes the effort to see a human, previously perceived as different, unacceptable, distasteful or worse, as a fellow child of God with his or her own heartache, hardships, loved ones and joys, love becomes that porcupine. And what’s a more powerful agent for that which heals individuals and the world than the energy of love?