The Pastoral Newsletter for priests had an interesting take on whom we become because of environment. It was about the breaking down of a friendship between two priests, after one of the men was assigned to a poor parish and the other to a wealthy parish. Since the author of the article was close to one of the priests he was told that the break down of the friendship was the difference in the environment in which they worked. It had nothing to do with hurting each other in any way. One of the priests was relating with the wealthy the other with the poor. One was reading a newspaper that sympathized with the poor the other with the rich. With this different input the meetings of the two men lessened until they ceased altogether.
He mentioned how a politician in the old days walking the dirt roads had no sympathy for the automobiles that would occasionally pass. This was at a time when there were few cars on the road. However, one day a car passed that stopped whose driver recognized the politician. He was pleased with the ride and his thinking changed. In time when he had his own car he was often upset by those who did not quickly move to the side as he passed.
His conclusion was that it is not concepts and thinking that determines a person's actions but the environment. Change does not come easy but because of our environment we are changed. Reading a good book and thinking is important, but more so, would be those with whom we relate and what we do. We must pray and have empathy for those who are alienated but we must also see those with difficulties, the blind walking, to have compassion for their plight. We must look at those who are marginated- the alienated, who are surrounded by all kinds of obstacles and then we will be searching for ways to bring about justice and truth.
It is difficult to be objective and the above is a good example of what happens to all of us when we are sympathetic to a certain group. We may not be seeing things as they are but the Catholic Church's emphasis in recent history is clear. We should have a preference for the poor and even if this is not being objective it is what Jesus showed us by His life.