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Five Reasons We Are More Alike Than Different


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NASA recently re-released Carl Sagan’s famous photo of the “pale blue dot” that is our small round blue planet. When I look at this image, all I can feel is a longing to feel more positively connected to every being I am lucky enough to share this planet with.

I will be honest. I normally shy away from “five reasons….” type posts.

At least when I am the one writing them.

This is mostly because I have an overactive mind and it thinks 20 reasons is a short list.

It is also because these types of posts sometimes feel….clickbaity.

But sometimes, and especially in this super divisive world that surrounds us today, these types of posts are also exactly what we need to bring us back to basics.

We need to remember – to be reminded – to remind ourselves – that the differences are an outside thing. Or at least they can be, if we will let them be.

Many years ago when I was living in India, one of the monks told a story about a gathering called the “lord’s club.”

In this club, everyone was a lord. And with the status of lord, you normally have people to do everything else. So everyone – all these lords – were so excited to get together and meet and have a gathering of their people. And they all showed up for the first meeting full of anticipation.

Only when they got to the space, it was dark and cold. It was dirty and stinky. There were no refreshments. There was nothing to do. It was a total bust.

The lords couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. It had seemed like such a good idea! But then one of the lords had an idea. He said, “we should make a list of everything required to host a meeting and then each select something to do for each month.” 

This energized everyone and they got busy brainstorming all the different needs – lights, heat, sanitation, snacks, a host, speakers, all of it went onto the list. 

Then each lord picked a job to do. The rule was that they could only do one job at a time and they couldn’t do the same job two meetings in a row. 

The next time they met, the lights were on and the heat was flowing. The space smelled wonderful and was spic and span. There was a table full of tasty refreshments. The speaker was amazing. Everyone was so happy. What a great club!

They all picked new jobs for the following month. And so on and so forth.

You can probably see where I’m going with this one.

They were each – all – lords. And yet at each meeting, one lord would be the janitor and another lord would be the speaker. One lord would be the chef and another lord would be the host.

On the outside, their roles looked so different. Underneath they were all the same.

We are like this – each of us and all of us. Or at least I feel like we are.

Yet it is so easy to forget this when some of us are rich and some of us are poor, some have jobs we love and some have jobs we hate, some of us are single and others of us are partnered, some of us are happy while others of us are sad.

But underneath, none of this outside stuff really matters at all – or it wouldn’t, if we could for once see beyond it to what is true and real underneath.

Sometimes I imagine that my eyes can only see the soul of each being. When someone crosses my path, I can’t tell what their skin color is, what their gender orientation is or even what their species is. I can’t see if they are short or tall, wide or skinny, old or young.

The only thing my eyes can see is their soul.

So when they cross my path, all I see is a blue dot (I love blue so I like to visualize the soul as a bright blue dot). And so to my eyes, the world is literally chock-full of blue dots every which way I look. There are blue dots whizzing by me overhead and blue dots creeping along on the ground past my feet. There are blue dots at eye level and blue dots staring at my belly button.

It is so beautiful.

Just for a moment, this helps me forget that on the outside I don’t think I like this person or have anything in common with that person. It helps me forget I envy person A and resent person B. It erases all the awful divisiveness that this world, the media, politics, culture, socioeconomics, social media, reality television, all of it creates.

Of course I can’t sustain this perspective for very long (especially while driving). And my fight-or-flight reptilian brain stem doesn’t like it one bit. Differences are how it distinguishes between a slavering saber-tooth tiger and the neighbor’s friendly pet poodle. Everything in the physical, concrete, safety-conscious me resists dwelling for any length of time in the world of the friendly blue dots.

But my soul craves it and longs to return.

The other day I was contemplating how we have proof we are more alike than different. The proof has always been there, but Abraham Maslow of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” fame handily organized it for us.

His hierarchy of needs outlines the names of the five core needs all (human) beings have:

  1. Physiological.
  2. Safety.
  3. Love and belonging.
  4. Esteem.
  5. Self-actualization.

Of course, these names aren’t all that catchy. And my reptilian brain doesn’t care about any of it. Because after all, another being can want all the same things – need all the same things – and still want to eat me for lunch.

But since homo sapiens is the one species on our small round blue planet that is by now essentially out of the direct food chain loop in most respects, we have bought ourselves the odd luxury of inclusiveness…if we dare. If we choose.

And so, as that blue dot with all of its seeming outer differences heads in my direction once again, and I am tempted to feel scared or split or suddenly fake a sneeze just to avoid eye contact, I can instead remind myself of the five ways we two blue dots are more alike than different.

  1. We all need air, water, food, shelter, clothing, a chance to carry on the species.
  2. We all seek and crave safety at a deep instinctual level we can’t turn off.
  3. We all long to belong, to know ourselves and understand where we “fit.”
  4. We all want to look in the mirror and like and respect who we see.
  5. We all have that inner drive to evolve – to embody survival of the fittest at its finest.

On the outside, maybe one of us looks like the janitor and one the speaker and one the leader and one the chef and one the maid.

On the inside, we are all just blue dots, each just seeking to find the inner and outer connection that makes showing up for all the rest of it worth the courage and the work it takes.

With great respect and love,

Shannon

Five Reasons We Are More Alike Than Different


Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama. http://www.loveandfeathersandshells.com http://www.shannoncutts.com


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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2020). Five Reasons We Are More Alike Than Different. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2020/05/five-reasons-we-are-more-alike-than-different/

 

Last updated: 21 Apr 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.