Holiday season

Humility and community during the holidays

By Kara Sorbel

Updated: December 6, 2021 Posted: December 4, 2021

The holidays are upon us, and for many, they will be close to “normal” this year. Our family is still in virtual isolation until we are all eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but I’m nonetheless beginning to smell that same sweet scent of community that’s been contained for years now: seeing extended family, continuing a plane for a vacation and meeting new people in a new place that can show new things.

I was dreaming about this while driving to pick up our daughter, when the radio disc jockey abruptly shared that, statistically, a person is more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark.

The past few years have been long and surreal for American society, where even death by a vending machine does not seem unlikely. Before the pandemic, tribalism and stereotyping were already increasing, with people only associating with others who shared the same political beliefs, demonizing “the other”, viewing themselves with suspicion and sometimes as the absolute enemy. Add the pandemic, with its isolation, the increased use of social media with each person’s selective slice of humanity, and it sometimes feels like these trends have only intensified.

As I watch our non-isolated friends and family prepare for holiday gatherings, I am reminded of what it takes to become a community again. And that involves trying to find the common humanity in everyone, from your annoying uncle who comes over every Thanksgiving, to the tens of thousands of people in town you haven’t interacted with in years, and who you may never interact on a personal level.

A good friend of mine is a pastor in Alabama, and he once gave a sermon on the parable of the good Samaritan. He pointed out that we are always encouraged to imitate the Samaritan who helps the stranger. But, he asked, how much harder is it to be the other man, the injured traveler who needs help from his “enemy?” Could we afford to accept help from “one of these people?” »

On any given day, we may all be able to offer or accept help. If there are also lessons to be learned from this pandemic, the need to humbly give and receive help is one of them. “Normality” is on the horizon for many of us, and I hope we greet each other as human beings who have gone through something together, and not as one of the publication’s “them” Facebook or talk show segment. When you cut suspicion and righteousness with a certain humility, we are all human. And we can all be killed by a vending machine.

Kara Sorbel lives and works in Anchorage with his family.

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