November 10, 2020


Have you ever watched The Force Awakens? Episode Seven is all about the rising up of new heroes within the Star Wars Universe. One of them is a runaway stormtrooper, a classic bad guy turned good. During the movie, he goes from a soldier known simply as FN-2187 to Finn; someone who assisted their small group in the endeavor to take down the controlling First Order.

From that point on, we fail to see Finn as a stormtrooper, a weapon of war. He’s not one of them, a nameless soldier taught to follow orders from birth. Instead, we see him grow as a character. By the end of the movie, we’re rooting for him. We witness a dramatic change; he goes from being known as FN-2187 to Finn, who helped save the Resistance.

Personally, I’ve noticed that my viewpoint changes when I know the person’s name. Suddenly, instead of looking at an army of stormtroopers and thinking that they are all inherently evil, we’re left wondering how many Finns are in that mass? How many people are like Finn, trapped behind a mask they have never been able to separate from themselves?

Just like in the Star Wars Universe, we have stormtroopers on this earth. However, these people don’t wear physical masks (COVID doesn’t count), but the mental masks we put over their faces.

I’m talking about the millions of orphans worldwide. I’m talking about the thousands of babies that get aborted each year. I’m talking about the millions of kids who are labeled with trauma or a learning disorder, and then, they are never given another regard.

Now, please picture me. Most of you, who are reading this, have at least an idea of who I am and have read some of what’s in my heart. Let’s go back back to an orphanage in Southern China in 2006. It’s more crowded than it should be. Wails of anguish and abandonment fill the empty spaces. Do you see all the children surrounding you? Now, look at me; do you see me there in the crib?

It’s easy to picture me because you, the reader, know me. But it’s harder to picture me in an orphanage, isn’t it? Because I’m not one of these nameless orphans, I’m Juliese Padgett, someone whose heart you have had the opportunity to see. I bet you can’t see me the same way you see those other kids in the orphanage. Wait, there were others?

How many of those kids around me had the potential to help other children like them? How many could have grown up and changed the world in their own special way? How many of them got that chance?

Does this change the way you picture them? It changes my perspective because those kids were my companions in the orphanage. We might not have had a personal relationship, but we were siblings in our own way. I might never be able to see their faces or have a personal relationship with them, but I know they are far from nameless.

The takeaway of this post is this: Don’t just picture the mass. Take time to see the reality: there are millions of individuals; each has a face, emotions, and a name. It's easy to see a statistic but harder to see a person. When we remove the masks that we have placed on specific groups of people, we change. And, with this new perspective, we are given the chance to love people, to be mentors, and to become family. But ultimately, this will never happen if we see these masses as nameless.

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