Seeing Through Each Other’s Eyes

Thoreau said, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

When Robin Wall Kimmerer spoke recently at Greenfield High School, sponsored by the Nolumbeka Project, she taught us how to look through two eyes—the eyes of indigenous wisdom and the eyes of science. Robin is “a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.” She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass, and since hearing her talk I have been trying on the two eyes of seeing in many contexts. She told us, it’s not about blending the two perspectives. It’s about holding each and keeping them in conversation.

As Journey Camp begins—a peace camp I’ve directed for 29 years—I ask the campers to put on glasses that allow them to see the essence of each person, their goodness, their importance. A word from India, “namaste,” encompasses that way of seeing, and we start each day singing to each other. “Namaste, namaste, I see the good in you. I’m so glad you’re here.” That short song sets
an intention that ripples through the camp. Among our six social agreements and guidelines is “Friendly Talking.” That means to treat everyone in a friendly way, including yourself. Other agreements speak of the power to say “Stop, I don’t like that,” or talk things out, but this primary cloud of care is foundational.

In the fullness of summer, in this full spectrum light, may we listen to each other from that place of pausing to hear and value, and looking through each other’s eyes.