Here’s the thing about humanity, we are all connected regardless of our culture and beliefs in that we are humans and we all experience the same things in our lives. We all experience, anger, love, loss, and virtually every other emotion that humans feel. This makes us the same regardless of where we come from and what we choose to believe. You could be a factory worker in the Midwest or a laborer in India, and you probably have the same priorities.
When speaking to a colleague that works for a local garage door company, (Davis Garage Repairs), I began to understand that how he, as someone in a completely different line of work understands humanity perhaps better than I do even though I have studied humanity for most of my life. The secret is in the people we talk to and how we perceive the world.
The truth of the matter
Is that he, as a laborer spends most of his time connecting with customers, which means that he must talk to people on a daily basis. As an intellectual, I spend most of my time studying people rather than talking to them, which puts me at a large disadvantage. He was blessed with a different brain chemistry and different skillset than me, which gives him the ability to talk to anyone, and most people like him immediately.
What is truly astounding is how much more he knew about people’s psychology without even opening a book on it. He is able to read people like I never could, simply because he understands what they are feeling and how they are projecting their emotions. By interacting with people rather than reading about how, we can better understand how we are all connected and that sometimes there is no substitute for human interaction.
Humanity is something that not a lot of people truly understand but it is something that we all are a part of. Truly understanding humanity means understanding that we are all connected and that even though there are a number of things that separate us, individual experiences aside, that we need to look out for one another.
You see it in the news everyday. Lots of tragedy, and it seems to be getting worse. Religious and racial tensions are very highly covered, and whether they are actually on the rise or just being paid more attention to, we must realize that something needs to be done.
So what can we do?
It all seems overwhelming, but the fact is that there are things we can do in order to create a tighter bond with our fellow person. It starts by understanding and ends with truly appreciating others. When we learn about other cultures, we learn about ourselves, when we learn about other races, we learn about ourselves. We learn that even though we may have different experiences, we have the same ones.
I understand that it is difficult to see things through a truly objective lens, and honestly even though I have studied other cultures, I do not see things through a perfectly clear lens either. These separate experiences do separate us, but it is something that we can take a step back on and reflect upon. Once we try to understand other people, we are one step closer to humanity.
We live in a world where we are all connected, but do have our differences. What we need to understand is whether we are social workers, retail workers, or people that work in blacktop paving, that we share the fact that we are humans and that we experience the same rigors of daily life. It is almost amazing to think that we believe that we are all different, and that the things that separate us are only on the surface.
Deep down we are all people and need to understand that no matter who we are, we are all essentially the same. As someone that studied Islam extensively, I learned that religion is often brought into the workplace, which causes problems.
Separating the two
What we need to separate is our religion from the daily things that every human needs to deal with. It is very easy to talk to someone about work, but it is difficult to talk to them about religion. There may be a day when we can talk about religion on a global scale in a respectful manner, but from what I have seen, we are not there yet.
In order to truly embrace humanity, we must embrace our differences as well as our similarities. I envision a time during which the brick paver and retail worker can get together and talk about religion and life as one, as people that realize that they are equals and that the things that separate them are only on the surface.
It is not about what makes us different that we should focus on, but what makes us the same. Every human being has similar life experiences, which we can likely talk about and realize that our humanity is more important than our religion, culture, and even our profession.
It is almost unbelievable, but the fact is that we have more in common with our fellow person regardless of religion or race than we ever though imaginable. Think about it, once you stop thinking about these trivial things, it turns out that we enjoy similar things and experience similar experiences from one person to the next. This means that any person you may think is different than you probably isn’t nearly as different as you think.
Once I traveled abroad to a completely different country and made a point to figure out not how they spent their day, but how they spent their free time. During this time I found that it was so easy to get along with other people of different cultures because we shared the same basic interests and experiences. Luckily, I was able to speak the language, because language can be a large barrier, and found that other cultures were not difficult to understand.
A prime example
At a local festival, I stumbled upon a person that was enjoying a beverage (cider) and asked him the reason why he chose it over beer. Simply put, he expressed interest in being different, and noted that this delicious beer alternative was just something that he had grown to love. As someone that has always strove to be different, I could relate.
I then got to talking to him about reading a Woodchuck review, during which time he told me that was something that he had also read. Not knowing this person, I found that even though we were from different parts of the world that we both shared a love for knowledge as well as being different. This was when I discovered that humanity is not as divided as we think we are, and a simple conversation can teach us a lot.
The Haj is just one of the great pilgrimages people make to holy lands and other landmarks important to their beliefs. And although it is one that I have never made, I have many friends and family that have made the journey and told me of its significance in their lives. As people, why do we make such journeys, sometimes on foot to far away lands?
The answer is that these journeys are something that both people and religion hold in high regard. The fact that most of these pilgrimages are spiritual shows just how important faith is a part of being human, and how important it is to preserve its history. If you think about it, history is just people upholding and sharing traditions, and without it, that history dies.
Making sense of it all
Each pilgrimage is different for every faith, and even within that, each journey is different for each person involved. Having heard dozens of stories about the Haj, I have found that even though the reason for the journey is the same, each experience is vastly different. How amazing that people can derive different experiences from the same journey!
Faith is something that ties us to humanity, and pilgrimages are something that helps us put that faith into practice. By experiencing faith in our own way and taking what we can from the journey itself, we can begin to understand why faith is so important to humans and why the journey is just as much about the experience as the faith.
Much of what drives xenophobia today is the fear of people that are not like us. The crazy part about it is that we are born with a sense of xenophobia and are biologically chained to it. Back in the old days, people different from us typically did not have our best interest in mind. Tribalism is something that has always existed, and humans have always been in competition with one another.
And while this is still true, the competition is different as is the sense of tribalism in our world. We are afraid of people different than us because we are conditioned to be, but we are also advanced enough that we can get past that and realize that we don’t need to fear them anymore.
Breaking the mold
It is time we realized that we are no longer competing with other tribes for food, and any difference that we see in other people is simply one of race and culture. We are evolved enough as humans to think past our biological roots and begin treating other people with respect and dignity.
Tribalism served its role in getting us to where we are, but we should honor our ancestors by finding a better way to exist with the rest of humanity. There is no longer a need to fear thy neighbor, because chances are they are not after your land or food supply. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can work at living in a peaceful and accepting world.
Faith is something that is very important to many people including myself. However, it causes a great deal of problems when people disagree. It is something about what makes faith so important to us that makes it difficult to share our most passionate ideas with others. In a way, faith is a double edged sword that is both positive and negative.
Although faith brings people together, it also divides people. Even people of the same religion, not counting those of different religions can become divided when it comes to religion and how it pertains to their beliefs. Why is it that religion is so polarizing and so unifying at the same time? People make the pilgrimage to Mecca every year, but may disagree on many things.
The hard part
The difficult part about religion is that it is something that we hold so near and dear to our hearts. Having studied religions of many types, I know that there are different sects in every religion, each with their own specific beliefs. It is amazing to me that faith is something that is so dividing and yet something that we identify as being the fiber of our being.
It is impossible to agree with someone on everything, but perhaps we can agree on our faith and that every faith teaches us to treat others with respect and value for human life. Maybe we can all be unified knowing that no matter our religion, it teaches us to love one another.
Fear is something that has kept people divided since the beginning of time. The fear of others and the fear of the unknown are both very powerful emotions that dictate many of our emotions. Unfortunately, this is how the world works and unfortunately it is up to us to counteract this natural emotion. We are living in a world where we cannot afford to be afraid of one another anymore, and if we don’t correct this it may be difficult to come back from.
Fear is a natural reaction to something we don’t know. As part of our survival, it is something that is ingrained in our minds, and something that in a way keeps us alive. However, in order to truly live in harmony we need to perhaps not get rid of fear but define what we are to be afraid of.
Changing what to think
We can’t help but be afraid of the unknown, but we can learn about new things so that they cease to be unknown. Part of what makes us human and the world so great is the differences in each culture and within each individual. By learning about others, we can begin to learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. That we are all human beings no matter our faith or culture.
Be afraid of what you should, the unknown, but by learning about other people and cultures we can begin to realize that we need not be afraid of other faiths and cultures.
Every person is wrapped up in their own lives, making it difficult to think critically about the world around them. We have so much on our plate at all times that thinking that our actions can make a difference can be difficult. However, if we are to achieve peace in this world, whether it be individually or collectively, we must understand that it is all of our duties to be considerate.
When I say it is our duty to be considerate, I do not mean that it is our duty to be tolerant. To me, tolerance means that you tolerate other beliefs without understanding them. I believe that in order for people to achieve harmony, that they must understand one another.
The hard road
As previously stated, people are so inundated with the demands of their lives that it is difficult to step outside of that box. Religious beliefs are so ingrained in people that it is almost impossible to think that there is another answer. The truth is that nobody knows the true answer, and even though we may not agree with other ideas, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand them.
As someone that has read quite a great deal about religion, I have the luxury of having studied other ideas, and while my ideas are still my own, I can see how other people think they way that they do. That said, I think that by putting forth a bit of effort in understanding that we can begin to achieve harmony.
Every human life is important regardless of religion, race, social status, and virtually any other factor imaginable. We have a duty as Muslims and Christians to support one another and even though we acknowledge our differences, not let that get in the way of loving all humans. And while there are separate sects of religion that preach intolerance, it is up to us as good Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu, or whatever to rise above this.
The world today is full of enough strife and turmoil that we need not blame one another for the way the world is. There is no doubt that there are evil forces in the world, but we must always remember that most people, regardless of their religion are good.
How to do this
We have all had conversations with people that we fundamentally disagree with, and sometimes this bleeds into the way in which we treat people. Everyone is unique and we have our beliefs, but it is time to come together as humans and realize that there in some way exists a world where everyone can appreciate people and their differences.
Perhaps it is easy to say from where I am sitting, but being a humanist is something that people should really pride themselves on becoming. Beliefs are very important, but what is more important is valuing human lives and realizing that it was these differences in thought that got us to where we are today. The world is coming together, and we need to continue to strive for equality.