Black Lives Matter and Enforcement.
Black Nationalism and White Nationalism.
Christians and Jews. Muslims and Buddhists.
Masks and non-Mask wearers.
Americans and the rest of the world.
I am under no illusion we are going to have some type of kumbaya moment. Utopian visions sound amazing but such realities require submission and the oppression of human freedom. I am under no illusion we will not have periods in which there will be conflict. Human beings periodically demonstrate an ugliness harmful to the perpetuator and the objects of that internal turmoil.
Those moments can be lessened if we pursue the hard work of understanding what is the common thread which has been woven in us. A thread which divinely ties billions of different cultures, languages, faiths, and geographic locations. What we have in common is so transcendently powerful we can miss it because we are so focused on the distinctions instead of the beautiful common.
The beautiful common. Thomas Merton, stated, “we can be, in some sense, friends to all men because there is no man on earth with whom we do not have something in common” (Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, p. 11). The groups I mentioned about are groups who have recently and historically been at odds with each other. Admittedly, these groups view the world through a prism which is diametrically opposed to the other. The representatives of these groups are pressed to view the “other” as detrimental to the natural way of life and thus arguments ensue. Characterizations and stereotypes are formed which shape how one group views the others. Many times the characterizations and stereotypes serve as the foundational knowledge of the group rather than the clear declarations and beliefs expressed by the group in question. While the beliefs differ and the practices produce outcomes which are looked at unfavorably, what we can not miss is the beautiful common thread tying all human beings together.
We are told implicitly we can not be friends. We can not have opportunities to communicate and learn from one another because it signals betrayal, lack of commitment, or the formation of a New World Order. Brother Merton expresses we have the capacity to be friends to each other. We have the capacity to engage with each other to develop understanding, practice sympathy, forgiveness, laughter, and yes, practice kindness. These are elements of friendship which human beings of different persuasions can practice if individuals choose. We all have something in common.
We divide and consolidate around particular beliefs and practices for a number of reasons. We find safety, security, and identity when we align with a particular group. What we can not forget is each of us came up out of the same ground. We are stained with a soil which reminds us our distinctions can not erode our common origin and capacity to be friendly.