Romans 15:7 (NRSV)
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Philippians 2:2-4 (NRSV)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
I generally smile and wave to the drivers and neighbors I encounter when I walk. This is a practice I adopted from a friend who told me that she always waves to anyone who comes down her street. She explained that the person passing by is usually a neighbor, and if not, she believes she helps to make her neighborhood a friendlier place for everyone. I liked her idea and have made it my practice, too.
When we were new to this neighborhood, I felt a little uncomfortable waving because every person I encountered was a stranger to me. But most people would smile and wave back, and over time, I noticed that often they were waving at me first! They began to recognize me as their neighbor. They were no longer just responding to my initial greeting but actually wanting to greet me as well. These little mutual greetings have come to mean so much to me. My neighborhood does feel like a friendlier place.
There is something special about a wave, isn’t there? Even among strangers, a wave becomes the friendly gesture that we notice each other, we acknowledge each other’s presence, and we wish them well. The folks in my community may know nothing of me (except that I walk a lot 😀 ) but each of us recognizes the other as a neighbor and potential friend. They do not know my political leanings, my religious affiliations, or my stances on social issues. I do not know theirs. We may have nothing else in common, but we see an underlying goodness in one another, connected as human beings who share the same community.
I think we need to wave more than tweet.
A few years ago I started a Twitter account in order to share my blogs, but I have avoided Twitter in recent times. There are so many political tweets and most of them are upsetting and discouraging. These vindictive and divisive tweets intend to inflame, rile and huddle together those who are on the same political side, while angering and pushing away those on the other. Political tweets are often used as weapons to further divide us, instead of teachable tools that could unite us. These political tweets will never change hearts or minds, but only further divide and alienate us from one another.
This type of tweet seems like the exact opposite of a wave.
A wave signals, “I acknowledge you,” while a ranting tweet declares, “I don’t care what you think, I’m right and you’re wrong.” A wave shows that we recognize one another as connected beings, even when a person is on the other side of the street. A vicious tweet shows that we will remain separated by our differences and there is no desire to change that. A wave is a mutual greeting of friendship, while a tweet is like a one-sided, palm-out gesture to keep away.
We do not have to follow suit. We can set a different example. We can be the “wavers” instead of the “tweeters.” We can look for the things that unite us- and I believe there are so many more than the things that separate us. We can connect in some small way even when we are on “the opposite sides of the street.” We can work to find our commonality instead of what differentiates us. We can try to find our common ground and use that as a foundation to build from there. We can wish one another well instead of pushing each other away. We can see people as fellow neighbors instead of unseen enemies on social media.
My friends, consider this post as my wave to all of you. That I see you as a human beings and I value your existence, no matter what you believe or where you are in the world.
We can continue to hurl tweets, memes, or Facebook posts (or bombs, for that matter) that claim, “We are better than YOU!”
Or we can come together and say, “We are better than THIS.”
Clipart image from thenounproject.com (free images)