Disease and divorce have given me more than a greater sense of mortality and frailty. They’ve taught me more about my solidarity with the human race than I ever learned in my former life.
Up until recently I spent most of my white middle class male life with people that look and act pretty much like me. In these last few years I’m finding myself in greater proximity with people who walk a path quite unlike mine. Now that I have a much wider range of friends than I’ve ever had it’s incredibly sanctifying for me, that is, if your definition of sanctification is to be more well-rounded and less prickly.
Prickly people are more judgmental than those whose sharp edges have been rounded through their own pain and through proximity with others who are in pain. Proximity, I’m told, breeds empathy. Getting to know people who are different than me helps me criticize them less and empathize with them more.
– Originally published in The Other End of the Dark: A Memoir About Divorce, Cancer, and Things God Does Anyway (the profits of which go to Freedom House).