In Community, Culture, Fun Stuff, Social Justice by christine


I am a lover of travel and culture.  I have come to appreciate that I can learn something new from every person I meet (sometimes whether I want to or not).

 I also am a firm believer that we really are more alike than we are different.  Our shared humanity means that we are all afflicted with painful emotions, and we all need love and connection to thrive.  When we can recognize our common humanity, we remember than feelings of failure, exclusion, betrayal, inadequacy, and disappointment are universally painful experiences. Suffering is a part of living.  When we are suffering, we often feel alone in our suffering. 

   The pain I feel in difficult times is the same pain that you feel in difficult times. The triggers are different, the circumstances are different, the degree of pain is different, but the basic experience is the same.     ~Kristin Neff

Another part of our shared humanity is to experience fear of the unknown.   When we encounter a person, race, ethnicity, or culture that vastly differs from our lived experience, our fear receptors can become activated.  Is this person/group, friend or foe?  To move out of fear and judgment, we must move towards curiosity and connection.  When we stay in fear and judgment it gives rise to prejudice, racism, dehumanization, and sometimes even demonization of others.  

One of the things I love to do when traveling abroad is people-watch.  Whether the language being spoken is Arabic, Hindi, Thai, Spanish, or a host of other foreign languages I do not speak, human behaviours and intrapersonal interactions are alarmingly similar.  Children in Jordan playing Fùtbol with a beat-up water bottle as a soccer ball, laugh, cheer, and delight in camaraderie just as other children playing team sports in other parts of the world do.  Grandmothers in India coo and attune to their grand babies just as grandmothers throughout the world do.

  I love witnessing these interactions, even if alone when watching them, they make me feel a kinship and connectedness to my fellow members of the human race.  Just as suffering is universal, so too is joy, love, and interrelatedness.  Embracing a sense of common humanity does not just benefit our relationships with others, it also enhances our acceptance of Self (judgments about others usually have more to do with ourselves than those we are judging).

The lamps may be different, but the light’s the same.