We’re more alike than different

This post continues the themes I wrote about several days ago in my post Strike the Root (click link to read).

My dear friend Jeremy recently stated that, “We’re more alike than different.” This is an idea I’ve mulled over for awhile, and it’s becoming more true to me as I explore what motivates all the different flavors of humanity.

Most of us truly want the same things. I believe that deep down in our core, we all want exactly the same things because we all come from the same source. We’re not so different from one another when it really comes down to it.

What trips us up is how each of us has different ideas on how to reach our common goals. When we disagree as to the method and means, we start believing we’re on opposing sides.

Right now I’m thinking about the current gun control debate. I have family and friends on both sides and know that each of these individuals is a caring and sincere person who wants peace and protection for loved ones and others. But they have opposing ideas on how to reach that common goal.

Those in favor of gun control believe that restricting access to firearms will reduce violence and prevent mass shootings. 

Those who oppose gun control believe it’s better that regular good citizens (including school teachers) be allowed to defend and protect themselves, and that being armed and prepared sends a message to potential criminals to stay away.

Realize that both groups want the same thing: protection.

So it’s upsetting for me to witness both sides having such negative views of the other. Just because others don’t believe in your solutions or how things work doesn’t mean they are heartless monsters who want to eat you and your babies. Just because you disagree doesn’t make you enemies.

When will we stop focusing on our differences and instead focus on our common goals? We cannot arrive at true solutions when we spend so much energy shutting out the other side and painting them as the enemy. DISCONNECTION and VIOLENCE are the enemies, and the longer we vilify our differences, the more we encourage disconnection from, and violence towards, those of differing beliefs.

I really do admire all the young people in the nation taking a stand right now. Honestly, I do. There’s something exhilarating and inspiring about witnessing young people standing up for what they believe in and trying to make a positive difference in the world. But my concern is that the young people who are so righteously angry right now may turn that anger on their fellow classmates (and others) who may not share the same convictions on how to solve these problems. This is already happening among the adults and I loathe to see the youth continue these destructive attitudes and behaviors. When this happens, I think the real battle is lost because “the other side” isn’t the problem. It’s how we treat one another that matters. If we have malice and hatred in our hearts towards those we disagree with, then we are merely feeding the beast of violence and perpetuating it’s existance.

I am very concerned for our country right now. I am far less afraid of terrorists and mass murderers than I am of the collective anger that is quickly growing among the population. It’s not just about gun control, it’s about so many different issues that we are dividing over. We are now so polarized and afraid and suspicious of one another due to race, politics, religion, sexuality, etc. I am especially concerned for the youth, who “are the future” and will have an enormous impact on the direction of our country. What kind of examples are we being for them?

Anger is not wrong. The anger so many of us feel is a proper response to the injustice we’re witnessing and experiencing. Anger gives us the necessary strength and will-power to make changes when we need to. But if not channeled correctly, we may use this anger to destroy one another instead of using it to enact changes that will heal one another. Realize the same anger, pain, and sense of injustice you feel is being experienced by those you disagree with. We need to be humble enough to listen to the experiences and concerns of those we disagree with, whether we think their feelings are justified or not. It is not for us to determine whether or not someone else’s experiences are valid or worthy of acknowledgment. To them, it is their reality, it is their life and their story. “Whatever is denied cannot be healed,” and we cannot heal one another if we deny one another. We must listen to each other and find our common wounds and common needs. We need to work TOGETHER to find the medicine that will heal the soul of humanity.

I am angry too. I am angry over senseless violence and for the pain and grief we’ve endured. And I am angry that we have believed the lies which state that those who are different from us are a threat. I am angry that our fears have blinded us to our common ground. I am angry that we choose distance and separation over love and acceptance.

What will I do with my anger? Right now, I am using it to strengthen my voice and speak out against the root of violence in our country. I want to bring down the walls that separate us from one another and to expose fear as the imposter that it is. And ultimately, I let this anger break me open and expose my own vulnerability. Underneath all the anger is my own pain and desire for healing and acceptance. Underneath all the anger in our country is the pain of disconnection, of being separated from love, from one another. We all want love and acceptance. We all want the same things.

We stand at a crucial moment in our nation’s history. We can use this growing momentum to break down the walls that divide us, or we can use it to destroy one another. Every one of us has a choice. 

Will I choose love today? Will I choose to see my brothers and sisters as allies in the quest for protection and prosperity? Will I choose to remember that we all want the same things?

Today I choose to remember that we are more alike than we are different. I urge you to do the same.

Tomorrow I plan to continue this topic, but from an extremely vulnerable personal perspective. I want to share my own experiences and struggles that are so specific to these issues, and to shed light on my own shadow that I’ve projected onto this entire situation. In writing about this topic lately, I’m coming to face the areas in my own heart that need healing and recognize the walls I have built between me and others. 

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