Facebook keeps showing me pictures from trips I took to Europe years ago, including one from Denmark in 2016. What I remember about that trip, other than laughing and exploring the country with a dear friend, is how everything reminded me of something else.
For instance, gazing out a train window, I could have sworn I was in Iowa, not Denmark, because the land was so similar. At the beach, the combination of the sand’s color, dunes, and water reminded me of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I know there are places in Denmark that are completely unique, but all in all, whenever I travel, I’m reminded everything is more the same than it is different. Yes, the landscape, but also the people.
I may not speak the same language as someone else, but we both care about our friends and family. We both want to be happy, to feel secure in where we live. We all have the same needs, and in times like these, all times really, it’s important to keep focusing on what binds us.
In our world, there are some people who are trying to create division. There are some people who use one group or another as a scapegoat for the world’s problems. They speak in broad strokes like, “All of these people are like this,” or “Those people are like that,” which is dangerous. When we enhance separateness, that creates conflict because at the root of mistreatment is an “us” and “them” mindset. It’s easier to justify atrocious acts when a person becomes someone who is “not like me.” Or even worse, not human.
My spiritual teacher corroborates this and says “us” and “them” thinking makes different groups become more violent toward each other. We’ve seen this over and over again. Frankly, haven’t we had enough? I’m not so naïve to think there will never be any conflicts in the world, but I think we start moving in a better direction when we realize, to paraphrase Shakespeare, that we all bleed when we are pricked, that we all feel pain and sorrow, that we all want to be happy and to realize our dreams. We want the same things even if how we go about achieving them is different.
I’ve used this quote before but it continues to be relevant. My spiritual teacher adds, “Human society is just like a garland which is made of different types of flowers, woven together by one common thread. The overall beauty of the garland is dependent upon the beauty of each flower. Likewise, each strata of society must be equally strengthened if we are to maintain the unity and solidarity of society.”
We must all be lifted up. We must support one another. We must see each other as people who are just like us if we have any hope of maintaining unity and solidarity. Peace comes from a place of connection and that starts with recognizing we are more similar than different.
I dream of a world where we recognize what unites us rather than divides us. A world where we focus on our similarities, not our differences. A world where we remember people are people everywhere. A world where we work together to create as much peace as we can.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.