January 2, 2017 by Cláudia
The world’s made of polarities right now. Religious/non religious. Muslim/Catholic. Man/Woman. East/West. With education, with littler (formal) education. Black/White/Asian/Mixed Race. Vegan/Meat eater. Pro-life/Pro-choice. Right/Left.
It’s endless. If we are looking for disparities (and it really seems like we are) we can create an endless list. We are all so different in many ways and therefore we antagonize. Even inside movements and communities a million reasons for friction are created, reason for dividing I and They.
We don’t need more Others, we don’t need more reasons to be divided. I know it’s hard to accept that some people have different ideas. I know. It’s hard. But there is a much bigger deal that unites us than separating us. We are focusing on what’s different rather than on what’s similar. If we are looking for motives to divide, then we are proving that they exist. We are fragmented, all looking inside and rejecting others without really understanding them.
The thing is, if we can do this the other way around – if we could just try to find ways to connect, to identify, to relate, to feel compassion, to exchange experiences, to give a helping hand – we could find a million more. Because no matter what differs on the surface – education, culture, values, habits, style, language – deep inside we are all human. We feel the same emotions, we live similar experiences, we experience life and death and pain, suffering and happiness. We fear, we feel alone, we enjoy, we cry and we laugh. All these are Universal. And all these are so much deeper than skin colour or upbringing.
Tolerating difference is difficult, I know. Trust me, I know. It is lack of understanding that makes it so hard sometimes to relate and coexist peacefully and respectfully with others. Most times there is a mutual lack of understanding and then two people or two communities antagonize. On a greater scale this leads to war. Many people see war as purely economical or political – but it is not. It is mainly human and moved by feelings like fear, humiliation and hope. Money doesn’t really make the world go around – feelings do. Human feelings. That quality we all share that can be called Humanity.
Contemporary world has neglected humanity so badly. We have misplaced our priorities. That’s why it is so easy to lose faith in Humanity. People are so divided and act in ways that we don’t mutually understand that we have neglected each other. We’ve neglected a common purpose. We’ve neglected that it is Humanity that bonds us together.
I am experiencing a very troubling fluctuation between losing and regaining faith in Humanity. Because Humanity has this duality: we are capable both of acts of kindness and selfishness. Some people have a blind faith in Humanity. Most of them, though, have lost it and live skeptically with sarcastic defeated comments on the Human nature. Both are incomplete, though, and to believe in either one means forcefully to block either the kind or the selfish side of the human being.
We are both – we all are both selfless and selfish. And that’s okay. We need to acknowledge that in ourselves and forgive that in others. We need to cherish and understand both sides and not let ourselves be imbalanced. We need to come together as a huge family that is incredibly diverse but has the same core essence. We need to let go of our difficulty in accepting difference. We need to push each other to be better without forcing beliefs and values. We need to respect and value difference. We need to be one while still being six billion.
I recognize that this may seem incredibly difficult, specially thinking about current issues like extreme-right, racism, terrorism, etc.- and it can be. But sometimes it takes as little as listening. Giving others space to speak, to be themselves. We can only respect the difference if we understand it and we can only begin to understand it if we get in touch with different realities (sometimes inner realities). Let’s fight intolerance with knowledge, with connections, with stories and feelings.
Suddenly my thoughts halt (Pára-me de repente o pensamento) is a movie that inspired this post, particularly this frame. It’s a movie/documentary filmed in an asylum. An actor goes there to collaborate with the patients and to find his character and they relate in many levels. In this frame we see the actor and one of the patients but it’s probably irrelevant to point out which one is which.
For more on this movie: http://www.paramederepenteopensamento.com/en/