She Has A Name
The bad guys in the movie all looked alike.
Becky and I noticed we had trouble keeping track of the villains. We knew the good guys, but the crooks sort of blended together.
It’s not an accident. Stanford Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says our brains are actually hardwired to dehumanize those we perceive as “different.” In a fascinating interview, Dr. Sapolsky says we’re biologically set up to divide the world into “us” and “them” and to automatically feel animosity and disgust toward “them.”
He describes a specific part of the brain, the Insular Cortex, that’s activated when we encounter a “them.” In addition to evoking feelings of extreme disgust, the Insular Cortex dampens two reactions: our ability to distinguish faces and our sense of empathy.
So – whenever we identify a group of people as “others,” we tend to see them less as individuals in whose shoes we might find ourselves. It’s easier to lump them together as nameless faceless evil invaders, aliens, barbarians, or whatever other negative name we attach to them.
The good news, says Dr. Sapolsky, is that we’re able to re-draw or circles. We’re able to belong to and identify with multiple groups, so it’s possible to re-define our internal notions of “them.”
Jesus knew this, of course. That’s why He identified Himself with the least of these…the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked stranger, the prisoner. It’s why He consistently hung out with outcasts. He wanted us to redraw our circles and stop this dehumanizing of others. He wanted us to see Him in each individual face.
A child rescued from human trafficking isn’t part of some group across town or around the world. She’s not a statistic, a brown or yellow or white face in a crowd. She’s an individual, precious child held in Jesus’ gentle hands. She has a face. She hopes for a future of freedom and love.
She has a name.