Despite the superficial differences between us, we need to have a sense that all 7 billion human beings belong to one human family. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This quote acknowledges that there are differences between each of us. Both as individuals, and as groups. Different DNA at the base of it all, and then differences in cultures and traditions, languages, and geographical regions.
Yet we are all humans. We are, all 7 plus billion of us, one family. While even the closest of families have their squabbles, a family of 7 billion can be expected to have a few as well. But they will be minor, so long as we remember we are all family.
Things can get really bad when we forget that we are family. Some of the most brutal wars and slaughters have come from the idea that the other people were not only not members of our family, but not even members of the human race.
Why is family important?
Whether it’s your family of birth, or the people you choose to hang out with, family is important to our sense of social belonging. Most of us have had a time when we were without any family, any tribe, anyone at all. For most of us, that was a very trying time.
Yes, families have their difficulties. Drama, violence (in word or in deed) and so many other sources of friction, irritation, and aggravation. Yet we (for the most part) stick with them.
Are we sick, or is that part of being human? That depends largely on the situation, but I think a great part of it is part of being human. Looking back at your past, would you agree?
By extending who qualifies as family, we begin to see why this quote is important. When people on the other side of the planet are part of our family, we want to help them more than if they are sub-humans from another race or place, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Like many of the quotes discussed here, I propose starting small, and then working your way up to the ‘global village’ theme. How is your relationship with your family? Both your present associates (closest friends) as well as those with whom you grew up sharing a roof? What can be done to help make things better, to help heal old wounds?
Yes, I’m sure it was all their fault. And I’m sure they’re never going to admit it. Will you hold it against them until one or both of you are dead? What does that prove, other than your ability to hold a grudge until your dying day?
Is that really an accomplishment you want etched in your tombstone? Or would you rather have something about how much you cared about others on there instead? The choices you make today will have an influence on that, right? So what can you do to help make things right?
This won’t be an easy path, but I believe it is a necessary path. Peace and harmony begin within ourselves. If we cannot be at peace with our closest friends and our family, how will we be at peace in the world? How can we work for peace among nations when we cannot even find peace with ourselves?
While you are working on your friends and family, consider where else in your life you have issues with other groups of people. And I’m not talking about Yankee fans or the fans of your rival sports franchise. I mean groups by country, race, creed, religion, ethnicity, etc.
When we group people together, it’s much easier to paint all of them with guilt which belongs on a very small group. Consider the present world terror threat. The bulk of it comes from a few small groups. They have in common a religion.
Does that mean that we can consider everyone in that religion equally guilty, and treat them badly? I don’t believe that is a prudent course of action. We could as easily say that nearly all of them are male, so all men should be considered guilty. How silly does that sound? Does the other sound any less silly?
Yes, we need to be cautious, but we also need to realize that because someone shares a characteristic with a group doesn’t make them one of “them” any more than being a male makes you a terrorist, right? Perhaps treat them as a distant cousin for a bit, before welcoming them with open arms.
We are all a little different, and some more than others. Yet we are all part of the great family of humanity. If we look for differences, if we look for reasons to hate and distrust, we can surely find them or make them up.
But that doesn’t help us, does it? I believe it only harms us, as individuals, and as a family.
- The Dalai Lama Quote (preciousmomentliving.wordpress.com)
- Prayer for Oneness of Our Human Family (nitikasethi.wordpress.com)
- Center and Periphery (slideshare.net)
- Among human beings trust comes about, not from expressions of wealth or fame, but from our showing affection. (philosiblog.com)