Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The story is told about two people who wanted a single orange. Recognizing that if one got the whole orange the other would be unhappy, they agreed to compromise and each of them took half of the orange. One of them promptly peeled their half of the orange, threw the peel away and ate the pulp. The other peeled the half of the orange they got, grated the peel for a recipe, and threw away the pulp.
If in their conversation they had shared more openly and listened more carefully to each other they would have discovered that they both could have had the whole part of the orange they wanted. As it turned out, in their rush to find an easy solution, much of the orange was wasted when it could have provided all that was needed for both.
I like this story because it reminds me of the importance of having meaningful conversations with one another; conversations that enable us to find common ground and the places where our lives intersect. I also like this story because it reminds me that in our haste to solve, fix, avoid or rescue we can fail miserably at communicating.
I’m sure that’s why some wise person once said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Good communication requires that we put twice as much effort into listening as speaking. In fact, it may be one of the fatal flaws of communicating through social media that so much time is spent putting stuff “out there” (aka speaking) we don’t really take the time to listen and hear each other.
Jesus was a good communicator because he understood the humanity of those around him and took time to really listen to what they were saying about their lives. When he spoke, he did so from a place of compassion and caring so that people felt safe as they were heard and valued and loved. Jesus also spoke from a place of deep wisdom with the certain knowledge that God provides more than enough for everyone.
We all want to be safe and feel valued, heard and loved. However, as racial and pandemic tensions abound we can find ourselves stuck in feelings of fear and scarcity. I suspect if we use Jesus’ method of communication we would discover that our lives do intersect on many levels and that there are ways to “share the oranges” and change our systems so everyone has enough of what they need.
As long as we allow ourselves to be a divided people who are not having honest and meaningful conversations with one another, then those who are hoarding the bulk of the oranges will never be held accountable, in this world.