Any fool can know. The point is to understand. – Albert Einstein
The human experience is not the same for everyone. Even though we are experiencing life together, we are each, as individuals and as groups, experiencing life differently. What goes on in the world and in our lives is often viewed from entirely different lenses, because people come from different backgrounds, faiths, cultures, etcetera. We all have different ages, genders, and abilities, and our goals, ideologies, and values are not always the same. The importance of events or circumstances is often different from one person to another.
We often feel that something is wrong with the world when things begin to change because it threatens the stability of what we have valued and held true. The great constant in life, though, is change. Life rolls on like an ever changing river, always there but never quite the same. Cultural values change, the economy changes, our health changes, and the people in our lives change. Change, for many people equals stress. A natural reaction with most people is to withdraw to what is familiar or what lines up with our world view. It is very easy for us to feel isolated, but this isolation does more harm than good. The best course of action is focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.
As I mentioned before, the human experience is varied. But what unites us? We all tend to have the same biological needs: food, water, sleep, etc. We all seek out, to some degree, the approval of others because it is safer to be apart of the crowd. Biologically, though we are each unique, we are, as a species, assembled in a uniform fashion. These things become self evident when one reflects on what it means to be human, but what happens in the mind is what separates us, the act of viewing life through different lenses.
Something I have been thinking about lately is the idea of Universal Truths: the things that tend to be agreed upon by the vast majority of humans. What I mean by Universal Truths are the core values that people, as a whole, value regardless of religion, gender, culture, and education. People value a sincere attempt to be honest and loyal. We long for peace. Theft is looked down upon. Nearly everyone sees the value of living in this present moment. Every nation and culture has laws in place to protect the sanctity of life. We value companionship and love. These ideas are repeated over and over again throughout history and in the different religions and philosophies that have come about. Some would argue that these core, globally accepted values, exist to just keep peace because there is safety in numbers, but I honestly believe that something greater is happening here. We all agree, on a very basic level, about what is good.
To anyone who is old enough to actually take the time to read this blog, it should be obvious by now that people, including me and you, are not perfect. Our fears, misunderstandings, greed, jealousy, and hatred lead to us deviating from what we hold to be good. Even when intentions are good, we make mistakes in both our behavior and how we interpret the behaviors of others. Some of us even have strong inner demons that are hard to control. However, I do believe that it is profound that we, as a species can agree on these values almost universally. This obviously is not an exhaustive list of what would be considered a Universal Truth. I plan to do more research, thought, and writing on this and related topics in the future, but, in the mean time I would like to challenge myself and you to start to become more mindful of what unites us and what we hold to be common values. This world is in need of real love, understanding, and compassion, and it has to start with you and me.
Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love. – John Steinbeck