“Nothing human is foreign to me.”

“I am a [hu]man; nothing human is foreign to me.”

These words have stuck with me for many years. The truth of these words is the reason why I can work with people who are dealing with issues that I haven’t personally dealt with, or really, why I can work with, talk to, or understand anybody who isn’t exactly like me.

If I ever slip into contempt for somebody, it’s a sure bet that I’ve lost touch with the reality that, given the right set of circumstances, I too might have made the same choices they did; or—maybe another way of saying the same thing—that I’ve lost touch with the part of myself that is capable of embodying the same spirit.

When I’m thinking rightly, I can see that there is something that I can make sense of even in a person’s craziness, even in the atrocities a person might commit. This is to say that I’m not fundamentally or inherently better than anyone.

I really believe that to be true. And I love the world of possibility that this opens to me: that no matter who walks through my door, there is a sure bet of finding something familiar there.

And, as an introvert, I’m not always particularly excited about anybody walking through my door; but it is a comfort to know that there is always a hint of something familiar in anybody who happens to be on the other side of it.

(By the way, the quote is from somebody named “Terence”. I don’t remember where I originally heard it. The words stuck with me more than any information about who “Terence” is. You know how that goes.)