Imagine living without friends or community. Wayne Muller says he couldn’t live deeply and authentically without good friends. We are dependent on community.
Community opens doorways for us. When can speak what’s on our hearts and know we won’t be made wrong. I belong to several book discussion groups. As we discuss what the books mean to us we often times disagree and have widely disparate opinions of what the author is saying. What is most important though is we all feel respected and no matter how we disagree everyone is listened to and all opinions matter.
Albert Einstein said humans experience themselves as separate from the rest. He called it a delusion that creates a prison for us. We need to free ourselves and widen our circle of compassion for all living things. So often we give ourselves labels and boundaries that separate us. Recently I saw a TV show where an actor played the part of a Muslim who worked behind the counter at a deli. Another actor played the part of a racist who began to pick on him. Bystanders who did not know the two men were actors are seen reacting. The last bystander was an American soldier who protected the Muslim man. His rationale was he was fighting to protecting the rights of all Americans. It was heartening to see how many people saw beyond labels that separate us and instead saw how we are all one. Alan Cohen put it quite well when he wrote, “We can honor our differences, while celebrating our unity then we can meet on common ground.”
In short when we see past labels and judgments we come to the conclusion that what matters most is we are all part of the human community and that is the label that matters most.