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Faith Matters: Our perspectives enhance each other

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I was in school when many of the firsts of the space program took place. Everything stopped in class, and we focused on the black and white televisions to watch those early forays into space.

The pictures from those first flights that stay in my mind are the pictures of Earth taken from space. It gave me a new perspective, one without the border marking on the world globes at school. There were no highways as are marked on road maps. I could see nothing made by people. Instead, it showed a beautiful ball, primarily of swirling colors we would later discover were blues and greens.

In those years, the United States was in a race with Russia for a lot of things, including the space program. And here were pictures showing us that we were all part of one human family.

We didn’t have to work against each other all the time. Many have realized that over the years, and the space program is one of the places we sometimes partner!

Today we are in the midst of a pandemic that recognizes no borders. The virus has invaded scores of nursing facilities, community after community across our country, and others and still aggressively moves on.

Looking at the job of a contact tracer, I don’t think we realize how much we interact with each other. Our paths cross those of essential workers, even when we get curbside pickup or delivery. But that is just the edge of our web of interaction. We also connect to the people they have come in contact with, and the circle grows.

We are no longer self-sufficient, as individuals or as a country. We trust and rely on farmers, manufacturers, shippers and business people around the world for the items we use. They connect us, along with the internet and telecommunications, in ways that our grandparents could not imagine. News now travels instantaneously, and we are “there,” not just hearing about something happening in a faraway place.

These days, we see the search for effective treatments, and a COVID-19 vaccine is not contained only inside our borders. The world is looking, and when found and proven, it will be shared.

I always find it helpful to remember that there are other ways to see the things that I am so sure I see fully and completely. They are just as valid as what I see, and I have also discovered that, when I take time to understand another perspective, it enriches me and often enhances my own perspective. I may discover how someone lives in another country on the other side of the world, or I may get to look from the perspective of another who is seeing a satellite picture of that location.

My faith tells me that we are all on the same team; we are all part of the human family, working together for the common good. There is one who truly sees and reigns over the big picture!

Rev. Gwen Bernstine, executive director, United Churches of Lycoming County

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