I wrote this blog post a year ago before Christmas. I hope as the holiday season is upon us, along with all the fun and important time with family and friends, we also take the time to think about others with empathy. We all don’t have the same circumstances or advantages or disadvantages or backgrounds or means and that what may be good for you or I may not be good for your fellow men, women, and children. So with Christmas upon us once again, in addition to the normal festivities, I call for us all as best as we can to think beyond just ourselves or even beyond our own family and friends to a wider perspective. We really are ‘stronger together’ and the more we strive to make all lives better, the better off we all will be. I am reposting this blog article as just a reminder that there is more we have in common that not. Merry Christmas everyone!
No matter who you are or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….” President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS. A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”
With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective. While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people. Men, women, and children. And it’s in all of our best interests to keep in mind that we all play on “team humankind” at the end of the day.
I think sometimes we forget when we throw labels around, like “refugees” or “Muslim” or “gays” or “liberals” or “conservatives” or even sometimes still “blacks” or the “poor”, we are talking about actual people. Now if we focus on just our differences and decide some groups don’t “belong”, we need to keep some stats in mind. Religiously, 20% of 6.9 billion people worldwide claim no religion, and of the 80% remaining, about 30% are Christian, 23% are Muslim, 15% are Hindu, with the other 32% or so belonging to all sorts of other religions (ignoring that within “Christian”, “Muslim”, etc. there are all sorts of subgroups). Race? Around 25% East Asian, 21% South Asian, 16% “white”, 15% “black”, 8% “Middle Eastern”, 9% Southeast Asian, and 8% Central/South American. The number of homosexuals, while unknown, likely number in the hundreds of millions worldwide. The male/female breakdown is close to 50/50. Over 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2.50 per day. At least in this country, 38% self identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and 24% as liberal.
All of this is to say, no matter how you divvy up a world of 6.9 billion people, if we focus on our differences, and allow our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our hatred be our guide, we will always be divided and there will be no winners. We all lose.
However, people have key similarities. We all smile when we are joyful. We all enjoy music. We all have fears. We all are playful. We all have the same basic necessities for survival: food, water, shelter, warmth, security. We all have the same desire to be treated with dignity and respect. We all have feelings. We all have family. To paraphrase the Dalia Lama, we all just want happiness and on that fundamental level, we are the same.
Christmas is just around the corner and a phrase you will see and hear a lot this time of year is “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.” As we all continue to deal with issues and policies and all the messiness of the world, I think we would do well to keep this phrase in mind and that on a fundamental level, we are the same, as we consider the words we speak and the actions we suggest and/or take.