In the Army we have a standard uniform for just about everything. On the typical post you will see most soldiers in ACU's (the digital looking uniform), boots, a beret,...etc. When you are in a deployed or training environment we have the ACU's plus knee pads, elbow pads, a protective vest with various attachments, helmet and eye-protection. In a massive formation its pretty difficult to see people as individuals in such 'uniformity'. Everyone seems to blend in with each other. Even within a unit that you know people on a first name basis its very easy to just simple walk by 100's of soldiers and never truly notice them as people who have lives and families.
Even as a Chaplain walking around to see soldiers I have to consciously make efforts to take off my eye-protection (sun-glasses) and gloves so that I look at people eye to eye and get a real hand shake. I know that seems very odd, but it seems that we are so used to being 'pass over' that this touch of sensitivity seems to help humanize us. Just as simple as getting to know people's first names, ...and remembering it.
Now this doesn't apply just to the Army, but it shows itself up in the 1100 Sunday Morning order of Worship when people are encouraged to walk around the sanctuary and 'greet each other'. I find it all together disturbing when people shake my hand and before I can say "Its good to see you today", they have already scoped out the next hand to shake and are not even looking at me eye to eye. This is when I throw a random, nonsensical word out, just to reiterate bizarre behavior. So, what's the challenge? I would much rather meet one person, and get to know them personally than to see 1,000 people superficially.
Bottomline: We will never know everyone, but we do know those people that are sitting and living right beside us everyday. Take the time to know more about them than just the everyday "I am fine." The church should be the first to lead in this. We should value the individual and their lives enough to listen and engage them EYE to EYE. Stop thinking about YOU, and focus on them.
But the eye protection adds another difficulty, you can't see their eyes.