I was seated at a Starbucks café, gazing at the throngs of people whizzing past me in London’s busy Heathrow airport while leisurely sipping my warm chai latte. Some were running into a nearby bistro to grab a quick bite to eat, while others casually strolled into a merchandise store to do so some last minute souvenir shopping. They all conspicuously belonged to various races, cultures and social backgrounds.
My people-watching session was interrupted by a loud ‘thud’ sound behind me. I swiftly turned around to see an elderly lady lying on the floor motionless. Instantly, a few people rushed towards her while others scrambled around her looking concerned. A young lady gently stroked the fallen woman’s head and covered her with a shawl. Another man rushed to call for help while another checked her pulse.
The paramedics got to her within a few minutes and rushed her off to the airport’s medical facility. Later on, I was told that she had suffered a mild stroke. After the dust settled and I regained my composure, I had a warm feeling of appreciation wash over me because I had the privilege of witnessing selfless acts of kindness by people who chose let go of their differences to help a fellow being in her time of need.
They willingly disarmed themselves by removing any protective shield and personal inhibitions so that they could let their humanity shine through. They felt morally obligated to be of service to the lady who was facing a health crisis, which they knew could fall upon any one of us.
This dissolution of personal and cultural disparities has been due to the extensive globalization that has been facilitated by the astonishing technological and transportation advances over the past century. We have become culturally homogenized and share more commonalities than our ancestors ever have.
However, certain regions in the world are still afflicted by civil and national unrest, and conflicts. The ignorance and fear that dominate the consciousness of these feuding communities is due to an inability to peacefully deal with the fundamental differences between them. Their ego-driven perspective blinds them from viewing the other party’s point of view through the lens of compassion and understanding.
Studies have repeatedly shown how humans are instinctually wired to form tribes, even on the basis of the most arbitrary characteristics imaginable, such as which sports team they support. Perhaps this tendency to form groups ensured the safety and sufficiency of ancient tribal clans. However, times have changed – the clan mentality is now redundant and we can easily embrace a more unified existence.
In my previous blog posts, I have frequently mentioned that cultural education and increased exposure to alternative ways of living are highly effective measures to negate this clannish way of thinking and to promote world unity. By having these foreign experiences, we will recognize and deepen our appreciation, on a cellular level, of the commonalities that we share with others.
Through our voyages and cultural escapades, we will discover that:
Instinctually, we all are driven by the need to survive, protect and procreate.
Biologically, we all have the same organs, skin, blood composition and muscular structure.
Emotionally, we all want to experience joy, love and acceptance.
Cyclically, we will all go through the natural life cycle, which includes birth, youth, middle age, old age and death.
Chronologically, we are living in the same era of Earth’s 200,000 years of human history.
Spiritually, we all seek a meaningful existence, faith, and question the purpose of our lives.
Universally, we all call Planet Earth home and breathe the same air, drink the same water, and are subjected to the same unknown forces of Mother Nature.
Acknowledging these similarities will instill feelings of connectedness with the people around us, regardless of their race, color or cultural background. We’ll realize that the personal differences we have been so fixated on are, in fact, superficial and trivial. Once we cut through these incongruities, we can interact with each other on a soul level and work together in making the world a better place.
There’s one caveat that’s worth mentioning. I’m certainly not advocating that you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to the point of exposing yourself to potentially harmful situations and rude behavior. Be compassionate yet sensible about who and how you approach others. If you sense hate, anger or ill-will in another person, back off and silently wish for them to find inner peace and balance.
Fearlessly step out into the world in the spirit of love and curiosity, but do it with sturdy and firm boundaries around you. Your (and your loved ones’) safety and well-being should be your foremost priority. As author and speaker, Brené Brown, said in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, “If we’re going to practice acceptance and compassion, we need boundaries and accountability.”
What ultimately matters is the quality of your thoughts and their effect on the collective consciousness of the planet. If you are an agent of love and peace, you can be sure that your unique imprint will make a significant and lasting impact. Like a tiny ripple in a lake, it will expand far and wide into the deep and indomitable cosmic ocean.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Does acknowledging the idea that we are more similar than different help you feel more comfortable in your interactions with others?
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