“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
- Genesis 37:19-20
He isn’t Joseph anymore. He isn’t their brother. He’s just “that dreamer.”
The momentum to commit murder propels these men to dehumanize the young man. In their jealous hatred, they cease to see him as a person. He becomes an object or an idea. And violence toward an object or an idea doesn’t stir up the same moral resistance as violence toward a person.
We so easily slip into this dehumanizing behavior. We replace real people with their category: a race, an orientation, a political affiliation, a place or country of origin, a disease or addiction. “Here comes that dreamer” is the natural companion to “man’s inhumanity to man.”
Real names. Real faces. Real people. All of these are needed if we’re to show real love … and if we’re to receive it ourselves.
Good reasons exist to embrace your ethnic community, your political beliefs, or any of the other identity-markers that are in common use today. We don’t advocate colorblindness or any of its cousins. God in his creative genius has blessed our church and our world with a vast and dizzying array of beautiful identity-markers. But we handle these loosely lest we lose ourselves in them. People are more than the sum total of their identity-markers.
Let’s refuse to participate in the destructive practice of dehumanization. We can’t do this without God’s help. Left to our own devices, we’ll only see “that dreamer.” But with God’s help “that dreamer” can become our brother who dreams, can become Joseph again.
Will you pray today that God will help you see people as real people? Ask him to change your heart where it needs changing and to strengthen you where you need strengthening. He’ll do it!
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