Despite, how much we try to separate ourselves by nationalities, ethnicities, religions, communities, personalities, socio-economic statuses what is becoming clearer to me is how similar we actually are.
We all share the same basic needs of food, health, and shelter which motivate us to act in certain ways for our own survival. We all share emotions of sadness, happiness, joy, and anger. We all have mothers, fathers, siblings, relatives, and friends. We all have varying levels of hopes, aspirations, dreams, and desires for ourselves and the world. We all want to feel happy and do what we think is best to become happy.
At the most basic and raw level humanity shares so much despite the numerous ways we attempt to separate ourselves from each other. I’m always intrigued by looking at pictures on the news of people after a sad event since no matter what country the pictures are taken in you can feel the sadness blaring out.
The most haunting pictures are mothers crying for their children, you feel her emotions through the images despite whether she is rich, poor, American, Afghani, Muslim, Christian, Hindu – it doesn’t matter – and in that moment you realize that our ability to empathize and feel for others penetrates all the barriers we try to put up to separate ourselves –
This makes me think how absurd it is to judge others based on the idea that we are separate beings in this world. We are from far it and this realization makes the structures that we setup in the world almost comedic. A world where we have governments that setup huge propaganda engines to convince us that there are enemies, or we are better, or we are entitled to something more than someone else.
I love the Facebook groups Israel Loves Iran and Iran Loves Israel for this reason. These groups are made up of people who realize that humanity doesn’t stop at their countries borders so they circumvented the propaganda machine’s of their respective governments to declare that they see the humanness within each other. They realize that all this rhetoric about bombing each other’s countries isn’t to be taken lightly because the people that are hurt are families, kids, mothers, fathers who really don’t care about their governments trying to play hardball – and instead care about being able to raise their families, put food on the table, and create a good life for their kids.
When it comes to my own life – understanding that we are one and are driven by the same needs makes me more forgiving of others since I realize we are all going through this game of life together. It makes me more understanding of people who have different views than I do since I understand we are ultimately motivated by the same concerns but differ in what we believe are the right actions. It makes me question my attitudes and judgments about the less fortunate, homeless, and mentally ill people living in my community.
This past weekend, I was once again humbled by this sense of oneness that seems to be an undercurrent in life as I ran through the cold and rain to the coffee shop pre-occupied with worries about keeping my macbook dry, I saw a homeless man sitting on the ground next to a building with smoke rising up from the ground. As I passed him I realized he was sitting on the building’s heating exhaust to stay warm. It dawned on me that he also felt the same pangs of coldness and discomfort as I did – I realized that my sprint to the coffee shop to evade my discomfort was similar to his attempt to evade his discomfort by sitting on the exhaust. As I passed the building I peered in to realize it was a study center for Berkeley students and I couldn’t help but to feel sadness as I saw the majority of chairs empty as this man sat outside in the cold.