If civilization is to survive, we must develop the science of human relations—the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world in peace.
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt ~
Does this sound like an odd question? We usually try to think of ways to get along with others in spite of our differences rather than because of them. Or you may decide to dismiss those who disagree with you to avoid having to deal with the disagreement. Is it possible to use our differences as a way to communicate with each other?
What if everyone thought the same way? Wouldn’t this create a bland and boring world? We quickly become complacent and accept everything as it is, ignoring the possibility that changes are needed or even possible. But maybe the world is really perfect. It is unlikely that the evidence before us will be presented daily. This is not the case now and it will not happen by chance.
The only way to live in peace in the world we live in now is to stop thinking and asking ourselves if things could be better and do what we can to help create a better world. Everyone is assumed to be equal and treated as such.
Many of us share the same dreams. We would like to live in peace, have a decent living space, enough food, and be able to provide for our children and prepare them to eventually make their own way in life. No argument there. I can’t imagine anyone would consciously try to stop someone else from pursuing these goals.
However, we are not all the same. Some of us are born into families with parents who know how to work together to raise us to live fulfilling and productive lives and have the resources to do so. Others have parents who struggled to survive or who may not have learned what it means to be a good parent. Some parents grew up with violence or deprivation. All they can do to survive.
Some of us learned from our parents that we are all responsible for each other. Others have learned that everyone is for themselves and that you have to fight for what you want. Still others are of the opinion that the world’s resources are limited and that you have to get what you want before others get it first.
These observations highlight differences in our outlook on life. If you see life as a joint venture, it is much easier to work together to meet the needs of all of us. If you are denied the necessities, let alone the joys of life, you may find it difficult to consider the needs of others. It may seem like all you can do is take care of yourself.
How do we meet or help each other in our lives if we are all so different? I think we need to start understanding what each other’s past and present life circumstances were like. It is easier to connect with others who have similar experiences to our own. Getting to know others whose lives have been very different from ours will help us appreciate their struggles. Despite these differences, I think he’s the rare person who hasn’t gone through some times of struggle and challenge which makes life difficult. The key is finding ways in which our struggles are similar to those of others and recognizing their different circumstances.
I think the biggest challenge is understanding others who are angry at their misfortune. It will be more difficult if you are one of them because then you have your anger to deal with. Understanding these people can help you appreciate the blessings in your life, or it can help you see how other people deal with their difficulties. How others cope may provide some lessons for their own struggles.
There are some specific ways we can use our differences to come together. I will address these in my next article. Stay tuned.