In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, a young German soldier lies in a crater, taking cover from artillery fire. Suddenly, a French soldier leaps into the same crater, taking cover also. The German youth bayonets and kills him. This is the first man he has killed and he wonders what his name is. Seeing a wallet in the dead man’s pocket, he takes it out. In it is a photograph of a young
mother holding a child. The German gets a lump in his throat. The dead man is not simply an enemy, but a father and husband like himself. He is someone who loved and is loved. This new vision of his one-time “enemy” makes forgiveness and love possible. This scene powerfully
brings home something that we often forget. We have a common humanity with every other person in the world. The things that make us different, and perhaps frightening to one another, are not as important as what makes us the same. In the scriptures we see this wonderfully depicted
in the Book of Revelation when St. John sees an innumerable throng from every race and nation dressed in white robes standing before the throne and praising God. No one is excluded by the things that we often use to exclude people. The nationality or color of someone’s’ skin or their race which cause us to discriminate mean nothing to God when it comes to loving them. And because that is true, they should mean nothing to us as well when it comes to recognizing each other as brothers and sisters of the same Father. If we could only come to understand that every person we fear and perhaps even hate has the same hopes and desires, the same love for their families, the same human fears and disappointments as we do, then perhaps we could begin to see them as God sees them and treat them accordingly.