I guess some people were pretty upset about the Super Bowl halftime show because Shakira and Jay Lo were too sexy. Meanwhile, others were aghast we collectively revere a sport marked by violence, head traumas, and lifelong injuries. And then, when we “talk” about these kinds of hot topics on social media, we often flame or get flamed by people with differing perspectives. Heaven help us! Am I right? I wonder if there’s a deeper issue at work here … Is it possible, without realizing it, we’ve objectified one another on social media, Shakira, Jay Lo, sex, football players, etc. to ALL of our detriment? What if we did something crazy awesome instead by revolting against our culture of division and NAMING EVERYONE OUR HOMIES?
“The world is cold. Someone must be on fire so that people can come and put their cold hands and feet against the fire.” This observation from author Catherine Doherty hits on a lot of what’s wrong. When we feel disconnected, empty, and less than, we’re tempted to “warm” ourselves by naming others wrong, judging different people as immoral, and so on. The oppositional energies of blame, shame, fear, comparison, and exclusion are quick and easy ways to make us feel better about ourselves and unite, for a time, with likeminded people. One of many problems with this, though, is in doing so we make living and loving people into objects … which also turns us into objects!
An object is an inanimate “it”, and a person is NEVER an object! Humans are ALWAYS subjects, a “she”, “he”, “we”, and/or “you”. The thing is, without realizing it when we engage with one another on social media, evaluate Super Bowl performers, cheer for/against football players, etc. we can slip into viewing and treating these beautiful beings like pieces of meat! Think about, or look at, the language we use to describe enemies (especially during war), differing politicians, and those with religious beliefs we think are wrong, and I bet you’ll find the Truth in this: While seeing someone, or a group, as “it” moves us toward various forms of harm, violence, and exclusion, remembering they are Truly a “you” draws us toward one another, expands our hearts, increases understanding, births kindness and care, and grows togetherness!
This brings me to three interrelated life-changing messages from Martin Buber, Greg Boyle, and Jesus. Buber (1878-1965) was a relationally centric philosopher who wrote about the difference between I-It and I-Thou relationships. While the former is utilitarian, detached, and pragmatic, the latter is unifying, enlivening, and Loving. We engage, study, judge, use, discard, and destroy an “It”, but a “You” … wow! When we open our minds, hearts, and very selves up to the You’ness of another, we’re moved, changed, nourished, healed, more alive, more ourselves, expanded, more peaceful, connected, and feel as if the Universe is within us cheering “YES!”
In his seminal work, I and Thou, Buber put it like this: “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”
In my mind, Greg Boyle (1954-present) makes Buber’s philosophy practical in the most beautiful way. This Jesuit priest is the founder and Director of Homeboy Industries, an incredible organization in Los Angeles that loves, cares for, trains, rehabilitates, and gainfully employs gang members. His book on this ministry, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion is an all-time favorite of mine. The gift he’s imparted to me in writing and speaking about his work and relationships is to do my best to awaken to and live from the Truth that everyone is my homie!
Homies are the closest of close. They’re family that’s freely chosen. A homie is a person you’d die for. Homies are people who can wrong you, you can piss off, and you’ll still Love each other like crazy!
It seems to me Jesus saw and treated us all like homies. When He gave His magnum opus of sermons, He said something super relevant to our conversation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5.27-28, New Revised Standard Version)
A challenging thing about this passage in the original language (Ancient Greek) and context is it meant way more than looking at somebody “with lust”! Jesus effectively said when we look at another person as an object and, thus, with a desire to own, use, judge, evaluate, and so on, we’re committing adultery! I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly done this. The good news, though, is like Jesus I believe we can train ourselves to do better by progressively remembering to see, name, and connect with the divinely infused glorious humanity of everyone!
I read Jesus as asking us: Is the nature of your desire toward others (and self) marked by wanting to be correct, to win, to be better than, to push down to lift you up, to use for your pleasure, etc., or is the way you view others (and self) characterized by connection, togetherness, mutuality, curiosity, understanding, and Love (especially amidst differences)? Do we see distant, faceless abstractions? Or divine masterpieces, who live and Love like us, we can call homies?
With all this in mind, I don’t think the problem was Jay Lo or Shakira were too sexual, to me they appropriately and beautifully displayed the femininity of their cultures (though I’m 100% cool with you disagreeing). Instead, I think America isn’t sexual enough, in that we’ve objectified and “othered” sex and sexuality, which are deeply subjective expressions of what it means to be human. I think we do the same when it comes to football, in that we view/treat the athletes as supernatural machines, instead of the fragile and magnificent humans they are.
Well, homies, what do you think? I believe the more we see everyone as a once in the history of ever “You” gifted from heaven, naming and treating them as homies we’d eat, dance, argue, laugh, disagree, hug, and die with/for, the more awesome everything gets! How does my notion sit with you?
(By the way, the pic at the top is from my walk home from work. I thought it was super cool, so snapped a photo.)
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