We talk down to the waitress like she’s our gofer. We shout instructions to the underling as though he’s a fool. We look away from the homeless man as if he doesn’t exist. To some folks, these people are invisible.
Did you ever consider that these people have pride like you and me, they have feelings like you and me, and they have desires like you and me? In fact, we’re alike on so many levels because when you look beneath the surface, we all want many of the same things in life. Yet some don’t see it that way. If they don’t look like us, they must be dangerous; if they don’t sound like us, they must be ignorant; and if they don’t agree with us, they must be evil.
Don’t judge people you don’t know.
Division Doesn’t Add Up
Do power, money, and status make someone better? Do they give anyone the right to be arrogant, disrespectful, or rude? I think not. While accomplishments indicate that people are successful, they don’t give anyone the right to dehumanize others and treat them as second-class citizens.
One of the reasons this occurs is due to divisions that we intentionally create or that are thrust upon us. Instead of emphasizing commonalities that bring people together, we artificially separate ourselves into distinct groups that accentuate our differences.
- Branded luxury goods are high-quality products and services that appeal to a person’s ego and self-worth. They shout, “I’m successful so I can afford these.” If people buy luxury goods to reward themselves for a job well done, that’s fine. But when a “toy” is flaunted, it creates a divide between the haves and the have-nots. While some people show off material excess, others are having trouble putting food on the table.
- First-class seating, corner offices, and reserved parking are all ways of saying, “I’m important.” But these perks also can create walls between people.
- Some people profit from dividing us. They pit us against one another by asserting that some folks hold an unfair advantage. According to them, the real determinant of success is one’s “label,” rather than one’s character, ability, or performance. If you’re not a member of the “chosen few,” you don’t stand a fighting chance to be successful. This drives a wedge between us. It makes people feel bitter, envious, and disillusioned.
The Cure for What Divides Us
If your success was earned through hard work and honesty, don’t apologize for it. There’s nothing wrong with living the good life. You’ve earned it. But if you think power, money, and status give you the right to be rude, disrespectful, or condescending, you’ve got it all wrong. No one should be treated like they’re invisible.
The truth is, while power, money, and status indicate that you’re successful, it’s not what you have but who you are that counts. Treating people with dignity and respect says more about you than trying to prove how important you are. Living with honor says more about you than achieving your wealth by selling your soul. Making a difference in people’s lives says more about you than enriching your own life. As John Wooden, the legendary college basketball coach, said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Be the person who sees the best in people, makes them feel good about themselves, and brightens their day. Bring the invisible people out into the light. You’ll be a positive force for good in their lives, and you’ll feel good about yourself, too.
Are People Invisible to You?
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