More In Common

We Have More In Common Than That Which Divides Us


"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."




More In Common And Yet...

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:

  • Experts are denigrated and ignorance, bias and prejudice is celebrated;
  • Intelligent discussion and agreement to disagree and respect for other shades of opinion are denied in the current cancel culture;
  • Public debate is hijacked and taken over by group think and mob rule.
  • Woke thinking takes precedence over reasoned debate;
  • Virtue signally takes precedence over private philanthropy.

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.





More In Common And The Narcissism of Minor Differences


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.






More In Common - Similarities Between Groups of People Are Large and Important


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:

A New Way to Look at the Data: Similarities Between Groups of People Are Large and Important

The study took a large international survey of 86,272 people and categorized them by age, gender, education, nationality, education, and religion.

The survey 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.





More In Common - The Duality Paradox

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.



    Here is the heart of the paradox:

    Duality, or opposites, only seem to exist as opposites in that each side of the duality depends on the other side for its existence.

    "Here" makes no sense without "there". "Not me" makes no sense without "me". "Good" makes no sense without "evil". Each of these can only exist in relation to the other.

    Therefore the difference that I accentuate as a point of differentiation between myself and you is entirely dependent on you!

    • Each of these seemingly opposite ends of the point of differentiation is one thing, not two.
    • Hard as it can be for the dualistic mind to comprehend, in being opposite, they are also inextricably tied to each other, and cannot exist independently.
    • They're like two sides of the same coin.
    • You can't have a one-sided coin, and the two aspects of duality cannot exist separately either, nor can one win out over the other.


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.



    In pushing our points of difference to a point of conflict, we suffer by refusing to accept that we are dependent on the opposing perspective to maintain our point of differentiation.


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.






A Personal Perspective on More 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?



    A focus on difference is a focus on negativity and its effect is to divide.

    A focus on common interest is holistic and its effect is to unite.


What you focus on grows.



    A focus on difference magnifies division.

    A focus on common interest magnifies unity.


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:

  1. Your point of focus is positive
  2. Your point of focus is on uniting people.

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...’




Further reading:

Dunbar's Number - More In Common And The Narcissism of Minor Differences

What Is My Life Purpose

Generativity

The Redemptive Self

The Power Of Rituals

Introducing "The Balanced Toolkit" Approach To Life


Return to: The Meaning Of Life

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