Day 2: Mutual Respect

by | Jul 10, 2019

Day 2: Mutual Respect

Brown eyes. Blue eyes.

We don’t always have words.  For instance, what are the ways we show love? Or appreciation? How can people communicate without speaking the same language? There are moments and situations that do not require the languages of our raising.  Here we return to our first native, human tongues: a smile, our eyes, our bodies.  These need no translation.  

Bright Eyes.  Eager eyes.

I close my eyes.  I take three breaths to prepare.  I open my eyes and they meet the eyes of one of my campers.  There is a jolt of surprise as our eyes meet.  We quickly avert our focus elsewhere, I chose his hairline.  Then we slowly bring our eyes back to meet.  Am I afraid what my camper will see?  My fear to be discovered as imperfect? Me, with my soul laid bare? 

Happy eyes.  Curious eyes.

But we continue our task. Time slows.  Maybe only a second has passed and my thoughts are flying.  But then, yes, I see it!  The corner of my camper’s mouth, once so serious, curls upwards, his cheeks now have dimples, there are laughter lines next to his eyes. There is delight there and I feel it too as my face transforms into a huge grin. I have glimpsed a part of his world. After 10 seconds we move on to the next team member to experience their world. In the depths of our eyes we have known each other for years.  It is here, eye to eye, that we can find mutual respect and see people as people.

Relaxed eyes.  Teary eyes. 

It starts with the connection between one camper and coach, then moves to the team, then it moves to a new community.  In the words of David Barkan, the Director of Ultimate Peace, “My mission is to impact thousands of young people by helping them transform the way they see one another and the world – so they can change it.” Look people in the eye with mutual respect and meet them in a language we all understand.  We want to change the world. We don’t always need words.