If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa
arlier this week, I walked out to the mailbox and ran into our Mail Carrier. This wasn’t the first time we’d encountered one another at the collection of mail boxes and we enjoyed a short chat on the weather, the 100th running of the Indy 500, and some of the shared challenges parents experience with grown children. Without asking which mailbox was ours, he kindly handed me our mail and accepted the letters I had brought out to send. We smiled at one another, encouraged each other to enjoy the day, and said farewell.
The following day, I had the opportunity to have dinner with a friend who happens to be a first generation immigrant from the former Soviet block. Though I only see him occasionally, the conversation was easy, familiar, and comfortable as we wandered between topics of business, children, politics, freedom, and philosophy. His journey has been very different than mine but I recognized some very familiar themes along his way. As I drove away, both conversations rolled around in my head and I was struck by the incredibly solid common ground I found in both discussions despite the widely divergent backgrounds, experiences, and lifestyles.
Two nights ago, a close friend of mine lost her father. We had watched her deal with the long slow process of aging, fading health, and all of the associated stress they bring. Tough decisions, money issues, challenges in medical care, family disagreements, and the emotional roller coaster of all of it finally culminating in his passing. Tears are easy in the face of such things and it is a road we all share. My heart aches for her and I recognize this particular journey as the ultimate common ground for all of us.
In a world in which we are barraged with images and messages focused on our differences, it becomes easy to forget the common hopes, dreams and challenges shared by most of us. Our existence as human beings is grounded in these shared experiences and they wait for us regardless of race, color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. We walk our own paths but our humanity joins us in a deeper bond that is easily seen if we take a moment to look for it — and if we allow ourselves the freedom to experience it.
Yesterday, I had lunch with the director of a local not-for-profit that serves the medical needs of those most in need in countries around the world. Our conversation focused on the business end of supporting such an organization but it served as another reminder of those common threads weaving through our shared biology and its implications for us emotionally, physically, and experientially. Though we feel the distances are great, I continue to see indications that we are never quite as far a part as we may think.
Though we feel the distances are great, I continue to see indications that we are never quite as far apart as we may think.
Our inclination is to believe that our experience is singular, unique. Yes, we are all unique in our own ways but it is a mistake to believe others are not sharing similar experiences or that we are in it alone. The more I talk to the postal carriers, immigrants, waiters/waitresses, executives, professionals, students, politicians, medical providers, laborers, and neighbors of this world, the more I am struck by how much we share in common.
Today, walk out into the world looking for those ties that bind rather than the barriers fabricated to keep us apart. So much of the disagreement we see is simply the luxury of our existence; most of us are so far past survival that we have the time and resources to disagree on little things. Look closely at our human experience and you will quickly see that the shared elements of our journey run more deeply than you ever imagined.