“People, people” LM says as he points to picture of a beautiful white building on my wall.
LM is in the stage which is described as “word explosion stage.” I stop folding laundry and glance up. His new word “people” seems pretty straight forward, that is until I realize what he is pointing at. What he is trying to say is “temple.”
Part of my faith encourages temple worship. It is a sacred place where one can pray, ponder and meditate. After visits to one of my faith’s temples, I always feel a greater peace of mind and spiritually replenished.
At first I found LM’s mispronunciation cute. Then as I thought more about it, I couldn’t help but think what if the words “temple” and “people” were interchangeable. What if instead of seeing just another person on the street, we instead saw another sacred entity brimming with light. This isn’t a new idea. In yoga class, I learned the beautiful meaning of “namaste” which is “The Divine light in me acknowledges the Divine light in you.” In the New Testament, Paul asks the Corinthians, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
The idea that a spark of divinity is within each human being crosses over many cultures and religions. It is an idea I fear is lost on much of our society today. While we can admire the great structures of worship from all sorts of religions and cultures, it seems harder to see this in those who seem so different from ourselves.
A red flag that is alarming to me in our society and perhaps it was the very first red flag in mankind is on the other end of the spectrum: objectification. Violent media, pornography, bigotry and so forth all promote the idea of objectification, that is showing certain groups or individuals as objects. Quite far from the uplifting idea of seeing others as ones with divine light, it shows individuals as something to be used, disposed of and replaceable. We see it in the pouting selfies of young girls who have been fed the poison that their looks are all they have to offer. We see it in video games and movies when cutting down and terminating others has no consequences, no remorse. We see it in the messages that promote Us vs. Them in all of its forms. This disheartening message permeates through our media and society, so much so that sometimes we don’t even realize that is what is being fed to us. The idea of objectification is a destructing one and at times I feel discouraged about what can be done stand up to it. However, I can’t help but think that if we used the words “temples” and “people” interchangeably, even just as a thought, that perhaps that is a place to start.