There is a knock at the door. The familiar is warmly welcomed. We have their favorite coffee waiting. We invite them to share our space and naturally indulge in open conversation. We know familiar well.
Another knock at the door interrupts the lively reunion. A stranger has arrived. What are they doing here? Why did they feel at liberty to come? We have no more space, especially for something so strange and odd. Something so different and nothing like us. It is not welcome here.
Fortunately, empathy intervenes and convinces familiar to invite the stranger in. Empathy’s invitation knows we see life from our own personal perspective. A perspective comfortable with familiar. A perspective which may often times reject the stranger because it is blind to the possibility there are parts of the stranger that may be like us.
Over coffee and conversation, judgement and skepticism sit close to familiar while the stranger introduces itself. Rejection lingers and ignorance shows up to join the party. It seems as though the stranger brought these unexpected guests, but stranger walked in alone and does not engage with these new guests. It is soon realized, these guest were quietly sitting with familiar all along and we introduced their presence when stranger arrived.
However, empathy was prepared and had already introduced familiar to curiosity. It reminded them that a perspective can be expanded and our minds can be opened. It helped them reminisce to the time when familiar, itself, was a stranger and how much life and growth happened when that stranger was accepted and learned from.
We are all strangers before we are recognized. Things are all foreign before they are familiar. Ideas are all unknown until they are found and understood. The guests at our door, familiar or strange, bring the gift of expanding our perspective. It brings the possibility of learning something new about ourselves and the world. Reject it before accepting this beautiful gift or accept it with arms wide open. Choice is ours.