“My hope and wish is that one day, formal education will pay attention to what I call “education of the heart.” Just as we take for granted the need to acquire proficiency in the basic academic subjects, I am hopeful that a time will come when we can take it for granted that children will learn, as part of the curriculum, the indispensability of inner values: love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness.” The Dalai Lama
I love the story in your last post. What a great reminder to us all that it’s when we engage with others that real magic happens!
Imagine how different our world would be if the daily news covered tales like this, focusing on the millions of instances of people connecting with each other that happen every day, rather than all the doom and gloom. I really don’t think it would take long for a big shift to happen: a shift from fear to faith.
I’ve just relocated back to England (for a while) and have noticed how wary people are of each other here in comparison to Southern Ireland. Like you, I tend to chat with people, giving them a smile and engaging in whatever topic pops into my head. It always leads somewhere interesting.
The other day I was in a long queue at the post office. In front of me was a young mother with her small boy, of maybe 6 or 7 years old. Hanging around in queues is deadly dull for small children (I remember it well!) and he was getting bored, singing “Let it snow!” louder and louder to get attention. I bent down and started chatting with him. Do you think it’ll snow this Christmas? Yes, I hope so: that sort of thing.
Then I realized that his Mom was looking at me with alarm. Her eyes said: “Who is this strange man? Why is he talking with my son? What does he want?” I looked her right in the eye and simply said “It’s ok, I have three kids of my own,” at which point she softened and we carried on chatting, all three of us, whilst the queue got shorter. We didn’t have the spectacular results that you and your artist friend did, but a moment of fear was transformed into a few minutes of connection.
And that, to me, is what this time in our evolution is all about: transforming fear of difference into moments of connection. Yes, we’re all unique, but we’re all pretty much the same underneath, with 99.99% of our genome being shared by each one of us across the globe.
By nature, we are all one. And we know it. Put a group of two year olds in a room and leave them to it and they get on just fine, no matter what color, creed or social background they’re from. We’re genetically predisposed to connect.
It’s only later, when we go to school and start to listen to what our friends and parents tell us, that we start to see others as different. They myth of separation begins to kick in and pretty soon we start making judgements that set “us” aside from “them”. And that’s where the problems come in. Squabbles over differences lead to arguments on a minor scale, wars on a major one.
We’re heading towards Christmas, a time when we direct our attention towards giving and sharing, when we’re encouraged to display our innate sense of empathy. I wonder, though, whether each of us can make a commitment to bringing that sense of empathy into every day of our lives, sharing a smile, offering help whenever we can, doing what we can to bridge the perceived divides?
For me, there’s no such thing as separation. What I feel, you feel. What happens to animals, plants, to the earth itself, happens to me too. That’s the beauty of it. We’re all in this together.
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