If we spent more time focusing on the things that unite us rather than the things that divide us, I truly believe we’d live in a much happier world. I know it’s not always easy, but together we can make it work. After all, we have so much more in common than we might think!
Let’s Focus on the Things That Unite Us Instead of the Things That Divide
I saw an inspiring quote today by Audre Lorde that said, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” So many of the problems that we face in the world come down to one thing: intolerance of anything or anyone that is different than us in any way.
That intolerance, more than anything else, does nothing to unite us and everything to divide us. Entire wars have been fought over nothing more than a difference in opinion. Let’s not even talk about how divided we’ve been as a society over the last few years.
Yet, if we stopped to think about it, I really believe that we’d realize that the things that typically divide us could actually bring us together. See, even within our differences, there are common threads that unite us. That’s definitely something we learned this year.
We are all united by common threads, even within our differences
When it comes to differences that we have a hard time tolerating, things like religion and politics are the hottest “button pusher” topics. Beneath everything, though, we’re more alike than we think even within these things that so often divide us. We all have common values, even if they look a little different from person to person. Let me give you some examples.
Family & Love
I was going to start with faith, but there’s one even greater value that ties us all together- love. As the Latin poet Virgil once said, “love conquers all.” When it comes to love, there’s none greater than that we feel for our family. If we all took a step back, I think we’ll find that our differences come from the same place- a desire to ensure a better world for the people that we love.
Imagine that you have a friend who votes for a candidate that supports health care for everyone. You think that she wants everyone to have a “free ride” and get something for nothing while you’re stuck footing the bill.
However, a conversation could reveal that someone she loves deeply has a serious condition and could literally die without access to affordable medicine. In other words, she votes for the candidate that will best protect her family.
On the other hand, maybe your friend votes based solely on economic issues. On the surface, it seems like all he cares about is money. However, if we take the time to listen, maybe we’ll learn that he cares about money because he grew up without any at all and just wants something different for his kids. Like the first example, he’s voting for the candidate that will best protect his family.
See, beneath all of our differences, we’re united by a desire to protect those we love. If we stop fighting long enough to listen, maybe we could let that love unite us and work together to find solutions that protect all of our families.
Faith & Hope
When it comes to the many different religions, we can all agree on at least one thing; we don’t know anything for certain about what comes next. Whether you have faith that there is one true God, a whole pantheon of them, or none at all, that faith is a thread that links us all together.
Let’s stop letting the specifics of that faith divide us, and instead let the underlying value unite us. Who knows, we may even learn something from each other. Even just accepting that different faiths have an equal right to exist is a great first step. It takes nothing away from our own, I promise you.
It’s hard to talk about faith without mentioning hope. We overuse that word so much that we’ve kind of lost sight of what it means and how it links us all together. We throw it out there so casually as a verb. I hope you have a nice day. I hope these avocados are ripe enough!
As a noun, though, hope is a very powerful thread that links us all together. Forget what comes after the words “I have hope.” Like faith, it can be different things for different people. Maybe I have hope that there is more good than bad in this world. Perhaps you have hope that while the world skews more towards bad people than good, the good will overcome. Different ideas, same underlying thread.
The point is, we all have hope in one way or another. After all, as the saying goes, when everything else is lost, hope remains, right?
A Desire for Freedom
Again, while “freedom” may look different to each and every one of us, it’s something that every single human being on earth wants. It’s at the heart of every debate (or, more often than not, fight), and the one thing that we’re all willing to fight tooth and nail to protect.
Like faith, our desire for freedom divides us like crazy when it could unite us if we just took a moment to care about others’ freedom as much as our own. We need to find a good balance between what you want and what I want. It’ll be hard, don’t get me wrong, but I have faith that we humans are smart enough to figure it out!
I debated adding this one because, at first thought, it’s not exactly a positive thing that unites us. But then I thought, well, that’s not exactly true. Sometimes fear can be positive since it keeps us from doing dangerous things (or at least it should in theory). But good or bad, fear is definitely something that we can all relate to.
Sadly, too often we let our fears divide us and turn against each other. If we spent more time talking about exactly why we’re so afraid of each other, I bet we would either find that there’s nothing to fear at all or come up with solutions to help us cope with the things that we should be scared of.
We’re all in this strange world together! If nothing else, let that unite us.
There’s one last thread that every single one of us: we’re all living in this strange world on this same planet together. If we can’t find common values within our differences, let that be the thing that unites us.
Look, I’m not naïve. I know that we’ll never live in a world where every single person gets along with every other person. There will always people who will never be willing to accept and celebrate differences in others. However, if even half of us can start breaking down the walls that divide us and build bridges with the values that unite us, we’ll be well on our way to making that better world we all want.
I’ll leave you with one last quote that I really love and that perfectly sums everything up. Amit Ray put it beautifully and simply when he said, “You are never alone. You are eternally connected with everyone.” We are all connected. Let’s start acting like it.
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