Imagine Life in a Different Role

A preschool classroom is not complete without a firefighter's jacket and helmet, a police officer's uniform, and a medical kit. They pull out the costumes and imagine life in those roles.

Adults lose more than creative time when we stop imagining life in someone else's shoes. We lose empathy and compassion. As long as we can keep people lumped together as groups, "those Samaritans" or "those priests" or "those police officers" or "those young black men" or "those Muslims" or "those Americans", it's easy to make blanket statements, to expect the worst of others, and to show little compassion toward "them."

In an effort to bring peace to the Israel/Palestinian divide, some close relatives of Israelis killed by Palestinians are spending time with close relatives of Palestinians killed by Israelis. They tell each other about the loved ones they lost and share their heartbreak. They open up about other parts of their lives and start to realize they are much more alike than those who benefit from a prolonged war would want them to realize.

If we want peace in our country and world, then we're going to need to take a page from our children's lives and imagine what it's like to be someone we consider "different." Until we do, we'll be too good at dismissing and disparaging them, which, as it turns out, is rather the opposite of what it means to be a Good Samaritan.