Henri Nouwen on Crossing Barriers

Compassion grows with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you.  This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate.  Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws and destined for the same end.  With this compassion you can say, "In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands."  

"Their flesh is my flesh; their blood is my blood; their pain is my pain; their capacity to forgive I find also in myself; There is nothing in me that does not belong to them, too.  There is nothing in them that does not belong to me, too.  In my heart, I know their yearning for love, and down to my entrails I can feel their cruelty.  In another's eyes, I see my plea for forgiveness, and in a hardened frown, I see my refusal.  When someone murders, I know that I too could have done that, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of that as well.  In the depths of my being, I meet my fellow humans with whom I share love and hate, life and death."

-- Henri Nouwen, With Open Hands

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