Just because we can find a location on a map doesn’t mean we really know anything about the place. Geography involves more than a study of physical location.
Our state, Mississippi, is a good example. This article by Martha Hutson on The Geography of Mississippi for Mississippi History Now suggests a method for reflecting more closely on our surroundings, using one of the primary themes for geography:
“Imagine that the state of Mississippi was able to exchange places with the state of Alaska. Not only would its location be much farther north, but what else about the state would change as a result of the shift in latitude? How would Mississippi’s history, her people, and their cultures, have been different if the state had been situated along the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea instead of along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River?”
Hutson points out that by using the theme of place, the study of geography “comes alive and shows the excitement and wonder, as well as the difficulties and challenges, that our incredible planet can offer.”
This approach can work not only with places, but with people – What would be different if you changed places with someone else?
Being able to project into the lives of others is a key element in living by the Golden Rule.
Jesus said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12, ESV). Stated differently: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Gal. 5:14).
Being helpful to those who are hurting requires self-knowledge and sensitivity: “Brothers,if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
The Lord invites us to get to know other people – and places – so we can care for them and relate to them in a meaningful way.