Our Common Thread: Being Human

September 21, 2012 by  
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Well, I’ve been traveling again–Paris and Serbia and Montenegro. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, I love to travel because of the stimulation it gives my mind and my spirit. The newness of the experiences and the variety of the places and cultures all combine to inspire and energize me. But there is one thing I don’t find much different from place to place … people.

As much as we might want to imagine it, people around the world are, at their center, pretty much the same. I know that in my experience most people are good and kind and want to help regardless of race, religion or country. We all have this binding similarity that is all too easily forgotten—we are all human and we all want the same basic thing … to be happy.

That’s why it’s so upsetting when I read in the news about people segregating themselves from each other. Whether it’s Muslims feeling hurt by what they are told about the US or the 99% trying to make it look like the 1% are another species, what would really help is for us all to stop and think that each person has the capacity for love and caring as well as hate, each individual is someone’s child, each of us are struggling with pain and misunderstanding and desire. That is who these ‘other’ people are.

Knowing this I am not at all surprised as I travel to meet smiling faces and kind gestures in every country and every culture I get to experience. I think if we expect animosity we will find animosity but if we expect compassion and generosity, it will be there for us to find.

The Measure of a Person–Action

May 6, 2011 by  
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Emotions ran high all over the country after the news of Bin Laden’s death. Words and sentiments were streaming across the net, reflecting the mixed emotions of joy, sadness, relief, and, most profoundly, the struggle we face, coming to terms with the violence of the act so many of us wanted to cheer and be thankful for. So many decisions we make come with consequences we find difficult to accept as our doing but we do need to take action so as to not miss out on opportunities or, in this case, help protect ourselves.

Our leaders faced an enormously difficult decision–securing our country but also actively seeking to end a life and potentially lose other lives in the process. You can see just how torturous this decision was for our president, a man who visited another victim of violence, Representative Gifford, before making the decision to order another form of violence. The decision was not made lightly or rashly. But it was made.

A great number of quotes are being repeated across the net as people look for ways to express their feelings about this event. Unfortunately, a number of them are incorrect, a quote attributable to Martin Luther King, Jr. being one of the most persistent. But here is one I haven’t seen that is attributable to that great and courageous man, and is one idea that I think we all would benefit from contemplating for a moment today:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy–Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963