Three personal experiences over the past 10 days highlighted that, irrespective of our individual uniqueness, we are united in our sameness.
Standing in the queue in order to cast my vote in the national elections; joining the long and slow queue at the Department of Home Affairs; and sitting in the waiting room of the cardiologist with my husband, each led to meeting up with different people from all walks of life, brought together for essentially the same reasons.
Snippets of life journeys, serious discussions, humorous banter, common frustrations and upcoming plans were shared without any need for one advancing faster than the other or claiming any kind of ‘more important’ space. All three occasions were so different to so much of what we experience in normal daily life, when titles, occupations, bank balances, geography and more tend to separate, rather than draw together.
In these moments I connected with the truth that our human vulnerabilities and strengths flow from the source of being the same, and not from the investment put into being different – with reflection leading to further contemplation as to how our sameness can be engaged for betterment of the world.
One wonders whether, if those who engage in violent acts, draw up legislation, place unrealistic and unsustainable demands on others, etcetera, were to bring their decisions closer to home and imagine the impact on their own lives, they would continue to stand by them.
For example, in the past week of world news, one might ask whether the decision makers in Alabama would feel differently if they were to consider the outcome of the new restrictions on their own family members, if said family members were subjected to pregnancy through incest or rape. Outside of the obvious rejection of the right to individual choice, it is possible that their picture might change, if the focus was on our common vulnerability, and was not distanced from the actual lived experiences of women, through the distraction of powerful positions, and the subsequent capacity to force legislative processes.
It may be possible that, through acknowledging the shared vulnerability in being human, this male-only group would have increased their emotive imaginative capacities, to better understand and recognise the position that many women are in.
As my professional life has matured I have increasingly recognised the merit in treating the other person in a manner of ‘what if the shoe was on the other foot’ when we engage with, and make decisions for others.
Put another way: ‘There but for the grace of God go I’.
Whilst I understand and accept the need for boundaries, objectivity and rules, as well as appreciate the complexities of personality that may limit the ability and or practicality of identifying with our sameness, there is a great deal of benefit, positive energy, trust and hope that can be found in connecting on this level.
When we shift the focus away from competitive differentiators, to this shared commonality, we enhance our ability to appropriately respond to one another’s experiences, and, thereby, instill a greater sense of trust and community.
In the long run, we gain so much more than achieving the task at hand, including a renewed and refreshing sense of hopefulness that, in the end all will turn out ‘okay’ – because we are not alone.
23rd of May 2019