"We are more united and have far more in common with each other, than things that which divides us."
These words were spoken by UK MP Jo Cox in her maiden speech to Parliament in 2015.
One year later she was murdered and her words went viral. Millions of people across the country realised that Jo was speaking for them. As her sister and founder of the The Jo Cox Foundation said:
"Community meant everything to Jo. And it was the ‘unity’ in community that mattered most."
Here is an example from the other end of spectrum.
Consider the delusional and divisive comments of the President of the US on the night of 2020 Presidential election.
Here we have the most powerful man in the world addressing the electorate and trashing the US electoral system in the eyes of the world.
We are currently living in troubled times where:
And yet most of the time, in most circumstances, people are the same.
I recall becoming very aware of this when I first traveled to, lived and worked in various countries in S.E.Asia. I noticed very quickly that despite our ethnic, cultural other differences at root, we all want the same things. We value the same things. We see things in the same way. We have more in common.
We all want to be
loved, to be respected, we all want the best for our children, we all
want to good health, at the most basic level we all want food, sex,
shelter and money.
Anyone who has traveled extensively in other countries and cultures will have observed this.
So why is there so much antipathy and hostility between people that are in many ways quite similar?
We seem to take our common humanity for granted and instead obsess over subtle divergences in culture, character and points of view as if they are the end of the world.
Freud called this phenomenon “the narcissism of the slight difference.”
He argued—long before we understood what cognitive biases were—that the small differences between us are magnified in our minds and thus drown out our similarities.
According to Freud the reason for this is the desire for distinct identity. Thus if we can identify and magnify small points of difference these become differentiators.
Thus the more we realise how much we have in common with other people the ego resists the feeling that we are not that special after all.
To protect our sense of self and keep this dissonance at bay, the ego constantly seeks to construct and reinforce its identity by artificially inflating the significance of these small differences.
Add social media to the mix and the narcissism of the slight difference is subject to a major multiplier effect. So given that our minds are programmed by our egos to disparage similarities and amplify slight differences the internet gives us endless more small differences to spot and react to.
I recently read an important piece of research that, unlike most studies which focus on differences, took a very large dataset and calculated the similarities between populations:
The study took a large international survey of 86,272 people and categorized them by age, gender, education, nationality, education, and religion.
asked them all questions to gauge their values around 22 different
topics (trust in science, the importance of education, morality, etc.)
The researchers then cross-analyzed the data in every way they could to determine which groups of people around the world are the most similar and dissimilar.
In all, they ran over 168,000 comparisons and found that, on average, people’s values were 93.3% the same.
Of all of the
comparisons, only 0.66% of them produced results where populations were
more dissimilar in their values than they were similar.
We live in a universe of vibration, and whether we think of vibration in terms of waves or particles, no crest of a wave can occur without a trough, and no particle can occur without a space or interval between itself and other particles.
Put simply, there can be no up without a down, no black without a white, no good without a bad.
Beyond the mind, you jump out of subject-object relationship into a realm where there is no duality.
But in the everyday realm of the conscious mind we cause and experience so much pain and suffering by our refusal to accept that for things to be good they have to be bad, for things to be well they have to be wrong, to be understood and valued we have to be denigrated and unappreciated.
Thus our individual and group identity is entirely dependent on the other perspective.
Not only do we have more in common - we have everything in common.
My view is quite simple:
Why don't we focus on that which we want in a positive way and drop the negativity bias?
What you focus on grows.
So my question to all those who are championing any cause or point of view is this: Are you focused on the positives, on what you DO want to happen and thus on unity?
Or, are you focused on the negative, on what you DON'T want to see happen and thus on division?
Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the activist group "Black Lives Matter" focusing on what they do want rather than what they don't want?
So rather than focusing on instances of white police officers behaving badly towards black suspects they focused on what they do want which is instances where white police officers act with civility and decency to black suspects?
Imagine a video going viral showing a white police officer behaving in a kindly, helpful and supportive way towards a black person?
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the "Me Too" movement celebrated the lives and actions of prominent male producers who have acted with kindness and decency and shown courteous support to actresses?
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the leading protagonists of the various causes espoused by "wokeness" focused on the positive examples of people and organisations who do behave in alignment with the causes they espouse.
In my view the fastest and most effective way to realise that we have more in common is to ensure that:
I want to close this article with an excellent example of this:
Resource: More In Common
‘… if I were to hold just one wish for humanity, it is that we remember our innate capacity to see each other beyond all differences. Such a shift in awareness might resolve many of the towering predicaments of this age and of our own lives...’
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