Making The Other An “It”

Hassidic philosopher Martin Buber wrote that people have two kinds of relationships. Buber defined these as either ”I : it,” or “I : You.” The difference is that in “I : it” the other person becomes a thing, an object, whereas in “I : you,” they retain their essential humanity.

Since in “I : it,” the other has lost their uniqueness it is easier to discount them, manipulate them or lump them into the ubiquitous “they.” On the other hand, “I : you” maintains our essential human connection, therefore they retain their essential humanity.

Actually, “I : you” is really more like “We,” because when we do something involving another, we remain sensitive to their feelings. Seeing someone or something else as an “it” frees us to discount them, ignore their needs or desires, and act in our own self interest.

Labels are examples of (I : it) relationships used to disparage. We speak of “the neighbors” noisy kids instead of “the Smith’s” who are our friends. Think of labels like “illegal aliens,” “bitch,” “Communist,” or “redneck.” They allow us to discount the essential humaness of these people and lump them into a class with pejorative connotations. Watch yourself when you use “he” or “she” in conversation to see if you are stating fact or discounting the other in some way or other.

The really interesting thing about relationships is that they exist completely in our minds. The other person will always be there regardless of how we try to define them away. You can close your mind, but try as you might, you cannot close your heart. The undocumented worker from Mexico, the Communist or the beer drinking guy in the pickup does not go away because we label them. Labeling or any other “I : it” is a mind game used to feed our egos.

The same thing is true about God. I don’t mean to sound religious, but you have never been, nor can you be, separate from Him or His love. Heaven knows it doesn’t always feel that way! But that is a different issue. God is always there. You can try to turn away, and many do, but that is just another game.

We feel separated from The Creator because we step away from the God Space and try to live from our egos. Living through the ego means that we will experience pain, because the ego creates separation, which inevitably leads to pain. And as a result, we end up feeling abandoned and alone, but that too, is a mind game. The love of the Creator is always there if we will lower our ego-shields and allow it. But that means stepping out of our fear. . . .

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2014

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