In a recent interview, actress Candice Bergen spoke about how her beauty, and the way others react to it, challenged her self-development, as no one seemed to care much about what she thought or her opinions. They were too bedazzled by her face.
I can relate. Candice was one year ahead of me at the all-girls high school we both attended, and believe me, even then her beauty “dazzled.” She was beautiful at an age where others were gawky, pimply, and graceless. She carried herself with a poise and maturity that eluded the rest of us, even when we tried to cultivate it by walking in circles with books on our heads. To top it off, Candice was designated our “May Queen” for the school’s traditional spring fete, the envy of all.
It never occurred to me to look beyond Candice’s beauty to who was home inside. I assumed that she must be everything I wasn’t and longed to be: witty, poised, gracious, etc. I certainly never thought she lacked for any personal or social quality.
Which got me to thinking: in this strange year of political divisiveness and COVID “to mask or not to mask, vaccinate or not to vaccinate,” how often have I looked beyond whatever opposing view someone holds, to the human heart and mind that lies within them? Like, hardly ever! It shames me to say that, for I know better. Yet, like everyone else, I can be – and have been – blinded by a contrary opinion. That has got to change.
For how can we ever achieve peace, the ability to negotiate and find solutions agreeable for most of us, if we get stuck on one aspect of a person? Candice’s beauty is just one aspect of her whole person. My political stance – your political stance – is just one aspect of our whole selves. The same is true of our gender preference, our religious preference, dietary choices, and on and on.
So, perhaps in this New Year, we can do our best to see, really see, the whole person who stands before us, and not dismiss/devalue them based on one or two aspects that we don’t appreciate. I, for one, thank Candice for this profound lesson, and look forward to seeing others through different, more compassionate and understanding eyes in 2021.