A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Seeing People as People

Posted on: September 15, 2014

So we’re different colours

And we’re different creeds

And different people have different needs

It’s obvious you hate me

Though I’ve done nothing wrong

I’ve never even met you so what could I have done

~ “People Are People,” Depeche Mode

One hundred years after the “war to end all wars” began, we still find reasons to fight over land, resources, and differences of faith and culture. Just look at Russia and Ukraine, or Islamic State and the countries of the Levant region.

If we tried to understand one another better—if we could focus on our common needs, hopes and values rather than on our differences—I believe we’d see fewer wars and conflicts.

When I was in elementary school and high school, most of my fellow students’ families came from northern Europe. My son’s class pictures tell a different story. His classmates have come from many different countries and ethnic groups—and that’s a good thing. As we share classes, work environments, recreational activities, and worship communities, the differences in background don’t become invisible, but we start to see people rather than those people we don’t have things in common with or don’t understand.

oud player

Oud player at the Palestinian Festival

This month, my family has taken the opportunity to attend the Palestinian and Turkish festivals here in Ottawa, and I hope we have the chance to visit more cultural festivals next year. The communities shared their cultures with the city, inviting us to experience and appreciate their food, music, dance and art and reminding us that people from other cultures are just people—people who enjoy passing along their heritage to their children, sharing favourite foods, playing familiar songs, and dancing and celebrating together.

Turkish folk dancer

Folk dancer at the Turkish Festival

We sometimes forget that we have more things in common than things that divide us. We all want to have work that enables us to meet our family’s needs, to raise our children with love and in safety, to enjoy freedom of worship. We all need food, clothing, shelter and companionship. We all bleed red.

I pray that we would take our cue from ss. 360 and 361 of the Catechism:

Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for ‘from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth’. . . .

‘This law of human solidarity and charity’, without excluding the rich variety of persons, cultures and peoples, assures us that all men are truly brethren.





2 Responses to "Seeing People as People"

Great post! There is much more connecting us than dividing us. What a great idea to visit he local cultural festivals!

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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