Can You Imagine?

Graham Greene’s classic novel, The Power and the Glory, is set in an historical period when Christianity was outlawed in Mexico, and the main character, an alcoholic priest, lands in an inhuman, overcrowded jail as a result of his addiction. It is there, surrounded by hopelessness, that the priest reveals his identity only to be ridiculed by a fellow inmate for being a bad priest.

Greene writes:

He couldn’t see her in the darkness, but there were plenty of faces he could remember from the old days which fitted the voice. When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity… that was a quality God’s image carried with it… when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate. Hate was just a failure of imagination.

That line: Hate was just a failure of imagination.

I would like to aim higher in life, and if I could be so bold, to learn even to love, but maybe the prerequisite is first to learn not to hate. And today, in our (politically and otherwise) polarized society, conquering hate would be refreshing progress.

I am convinced that the inner child in each of us recalls how to imagine. If true, then the crucial step is to notice hate, demonization, and condescension as these harmful sensations seek to harden into the dismissal of another as less than human and choose to replace the hate with a sincere desire to understand. For any progress to occur, we must understand one another, especially those we have a predisposition to despise.

I imagine this is possible.

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