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All around the world, young children are open with each other. When I traveled with my kids to Mandalay, Myanmar, they would just go off with the village kids while I worked. Their immediate ability to hold hands, play, skip, share a snack, and form instant friendships was so precious. It is only when children grow older and begin to recognize identities that they separate people into categories, most often according to skin color or gender or language and other factors. Older children and adolescents sometimes begin to fear these differences and tease harshly or resort to intimidation in a grasp for false superiority. If we resist filing away differences as we grow into adulthood, we remain curious.
These two novice monks I met in Mandalay were just being pals.
Their grins are simple. Their love is simple. Yet the gaze shared between them is rich, complex, deeply soulful and again, I say precious. Recently I was driving with a friend who was talking about the potency of really seeing another person. It struck me that we can honor and find joy in regarding another person with openness and welcome instead of judgment in our gaze.
In a time when there is war and conflict and oppression and bullies aimed at conquering, we can lose track of our gaze. We might find our hearts drowning in the discord and our compassion along with it. Let us look past false lords and into the eyes of a stranger or a friend or a family member. Let us look with love and call out evil. Offer hospitality, even in hardship. Be like children and play in harmony. What is given is often received.