By and large, I think we humans know the difference between right and wrong. We know that it’s wrong to abuse, harm, lie to, steal from, disenfranchise, or take advantage of other people. I think most people—whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, atheist, male, female, non-binary, white, BIPOC, young or old, American or not—would agree. Most of us know what’s right. Yet we seem to be living in a world where, increasingly, we humans aren’t willing to extend our consideration of others to everyone. Increasingly, we seem willing to extend it to some people, but not all, and somehow that’s becoming…acceptable. Evangelicals easily extend this consideration to other Evangelicals, Republicans to other Republicans, Democrats to other Democrats, rural Americans to other rural Americans, Russians to other Russians, and so it goes…

We learn at an early age to dole out our kindness in various quantities. We’re taught by our parents, unconsciously, or perhaps consciously, that full consideration doesn’t need to be extended to people who don’t look like us, or who don’t dress like us, speak like us, eat like us, worship like us, or vote like us.

Those determinations—who is worthy of our full consideration and who is not—may grow over our lifetime to include more and more people—whole voting segments, whole religious groups, whole nations, whole continents. After a lifetime of making these kinds of decisions, we find ourselves acting under a belief system that says, essentially, “This group of people is worthy of my care and consideration; this group is not.”

This is a dangerous place to find ourselves in. It’s not good for the planet or for our children or grandchildren or the continuation of our species, as it leads to unjust competition, hoarding of resources and endless war and fighting. It’s not good for our peace of mind, as it leads to hate in our hearts.

We humans are imperfect. We will always be imperfect. But we can do better. We can choose to be more awake to the beliefs that drive our behavior. We can choose to see where we dehumanize people, perhaps entire blocks of people. Yes, it is right and good to demand justice and a better way of life for Palestinians. That does not mean that it is right to hate Jews or to promote violence against them. It is right and good to defend the sacredness of human life. That does not mean that it’s right to deny women basic healthcare or the ability to determine their own fate. It is right and good to want your children to grow up in a safe and peaceful place where they are respected and where they can make a good life for themselves. That does not mean that it’s right to make them fear people who are different.

We can do better. We must do better. We must begin with ourselves—to try to keep our hearts open; to see every person as worthy of kindness, compassion, consideration and respect. It may not always be easy. We will not do it perfectly. But we have to try. Even when others don’t and especially when we really don’t want to. Because although the arc of the moral universe (ultimately) may bend toward justice, as Martin Luther King suggested, at this particular moment in time, our world does not appear to be helping it to move in the right direction.