Love one another – Jesus
When we deem someone as other, we create even more distance between us and that person. Sometimes, and quite unfairly, that person that is the other gets labeled as a sinner. The label itself engenders a picture of someone who is chronically addicted to a destructive way of life. When we create others we create outsiders. Some of the disciples of Jesus ran into people who were using his name but weren’t followers of Jesus and this confused them so much they went and told on these ‘other’ followers of Jesus.
Alterity is a philosophy of the other.
When we reject the other we deny that there is an us, only and us and them. In terms of philosophy, we as people are the subject and God is the Object. For new terminology to be introduced we must come to a place and realize that when we reject the other, we reject the Object.
There is this violent separation from ourselves as a whole when we push the other away. The violent separation starts from God and ends in us rejecting who we are meant to be. This radical estrangment can be found in someone who desires to define the behaviours of others rather than to get to know them.
This is the problem with trying to dictate who has sin or who doesn’t have sin. When we bring the idea of sin into a relationship, sin is there. Let me explain, when we spend our time trying to label an other as someone who isn’t just the outsider, but a sinner exaggerates the unnecessary distance between two people. the problem with the idea of sin is the idea of sin.
People aren’t sinners*, they’re people. Humans. Created beings.
When we label others we stand on our ‘chairs’ and look down on them. When we try and fit the other into a system, they lose their humanity. We become the fascist dictators of destiny. These are strong words, I know, but they must be said because Jesus didn’t seem to take kindly to those who went around using
Maybe we can come to a place where there is no other. Just one-another. maybe there doesn’t have to be an us and them, just an us. This isn’t a call for homogenous culturalism, but a radical re-alignment of our theology, worldview and relationships. If our theology informs us that there is an other, rather than a one-another, than we might need new theology.
Jesus says we must love ‘one-another’. Even in that phrase is the idea of oneness. Wholeness. Completeness. And unity. When we go out with our arsenal of labels ready to deploy on those we meet (whether consciously or subconsciously) we must remember the damage these labels do.
Philosopher Julia Kristeva speaks on the issue of how language in and of itself estranges us from the object we desire. Maybe what we can begin searching for is the language beyond Language. The language that doesn’t rely on structures to dictate how we should each other.
If we truly desire to know someone, know them as a nameless being who is connected to you. If we take the time to share a drink before even sharing names or stories, than at least we are acknowledging that that person has value without the need for a label. Try it. It won’t be easy. But I think it might be the start to a much needed shift in our society.
*Listen for the distinction.