Today on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called for an extraordinary Holy Year, a Jubilee of Mercy. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to me to also perhaps consider today “empathy day” a day when we can reflect on others different than ourselves in order to foster mercy and understanding. I started thinking about people in conflict and I began formulating responses.
I am a Catholic woman in America, how does it feel to be a Muslim women, in America and in the Middle East. What is similar about us, what is different?
- I assume we both love our families
- I assume we both love our faith
- I sometimes am afraid for myself and my family falling victim to a terrorist attack
- I assume Muslim women in America are frightened of potential retribution against them for terrorist attacks
- I assume Muslim women in Arab nations live in fear at times, under a strict social structure, but do they? Is that normal for them and therefore not strange or difficult?
- I believe some Muslim women fear and possibly hate Americans and what they believe we stand for
- I believe some Muslim women are at least curious about America
I am a white women living in America, what is it like being a black man in America?
- I have been the victim of sexism in my job and my community
- A black man is the victim of racism possibly in his job and certainly in his community at times
- I think a black man must be careful walking into certain situations or he may be unfairly judged. He must be on guard. That must be hard.
- I think a black man being pulled over by police officer has to be extra cautious, that must be frightening. I as a white woman do not need to be “extra” cautious
- I think people will unfairly judge a black man more quickly than they will judge me, but they will judge me as well. That must be frustrating
- I think a Black man lives with a level of anxiety on a daily basis simply because of the color of his skin that I don’t have, that is sad
I am a white woman living in America, what is it like being a white man living in America?
- I think white men are held to a higher standard and are expected to be “on” all of the time and that can be difficult
- I think a white man has to minimize his opinions in order to appear more sensitive to others than I do and holding your tongue can be wearing
- I think white men have to carefully balance what they say and do which is leaving them not knowing who they are
- I think white men are becoming the new minority and are looked down on because of perceived white privilege that they were born into and didn’t really create
- I think white men do have advantages that white women or women and men of any other color don’t
Just so very few examples and so surface a consideration, but a thought. In this year of mercy can we be like Mary? Full of God’s grace? Are we able to grasp that our life isn’t about us, but is about being not full of ourselves and our opinions. Our lives are about letting go of our false perceptions about others, ourselves and even God and being able to be like Mary and receive God’s grace. May God richly bless you and fill you with his grace this holy year.
Our Lady of Pontmain, pray for us