The number of mass killings in the world recently is quite horrifying. It’s easy to just throw up our hands and say “what’s going on?”. It’s really concerning and I wonder how we can stop it. The frequent initial answer is to try and catch the bad guys – round them up before they can do these bad things. Now, immediately, we classify the bad guys as people that are different to us. We argue that they must be different to us because we wouldn’t do anything like they do. In the article below, I argue that it’s this classification of people into different types (race, age, religion, wealth, nationality, sex, opinions, political alignment, etc.) that creates all the problems in the first place. Trying to solve these problems by further classification is an insane idea. We are not so different and if we could just accept this and understand it, then much of the horrible atrocities in the world would vanish.
[Image courtesy of Fotolia and Danny Wilde]
Atrocities need differences
Almost every thing that we might consider as an atrocity performed by a person or group of persons against another is based on some perceived differences. Wars need to have people on different sides, normally based on nationalities. Terrorist attacks are normally performed by people of a given religious or ethnic group against people that aren’t. Hatred and bigotry can lead to atrocities and these need differences like skin colour, race, sexual identity, etc. Discrimination requires differences by definition. Mass murders are normally undertaken by someone who feels very different from the rest of society (notice how the news articles after a mass murder focusses on finding what made the perpetrator different from the rest of us).
Perceiving ourselves as different leads to atrocities.
Even on a small scale we can see this is true. Our friends are people we accept as “similar” to us and we’re more kind and compassionate to our friends than to people we don’t know. For example, if a stranger pushes in line in front of us we might immediately attack them verbally, especially if they come from a different nation, race or culture but, if a friend did the same thing, we would’t feel the same way.
There are other differences as well that cause problems. One of the significant ones is wealth. We think that we can be wealthier than others, creating a difference, and that we must get more than others before they get it. Hence we have capitalism and greed which can lead to impure choices and lack of caring. What we don’t realise is that the things that can be bought with money are not really important and that focussing on these could well mean we lose all the things that truly are important.
But are we so different?
But are we so different? That’s a great question to ask. We all have no choice where we’re born, or when. We don’t choose our parents, our skin colour, our religion. All of us could easily be someone else (even part of one of the groups we don’t like) as the conditions of our birth were quite random.
We are all born from a female human mother, we all share the same anatomical human forms, we all need to breathe (the same air by the way), need warmth (from the same sun), need light and food (from the same sun and Earth). If the living conditions change so that humans can’t live on Earth, we all die.
We are not so different.
Have you ever considered how nationalistic pride is such a strange concept? None of us had any say in where or when we were born, or into what religion we were born, yet we often feel deep pride for our nation and religion. We had no choice in the matter and nations are only defined by arbitrary lines drawn on maps. The air and the sunlight that we all need to survive does not pay any attention to these arbitrary borders and share themselves equally amongst all.
We are not so different and need each other
There’s no doubt that all humans are really the same (in the ways that matter). We all need the same Earth, the same air, the same sun, the same food and nutrients provided by the Earth. How could we think some of us are better than others? Fundamentally we’re all the same. We are not so different.
In my last post I wrote, “I realised that I was important, just as important as everyone else. Not more and not less important, but just as important.” If we’re not more or less important than anyone else, we cannot look down on anybody else – there can be no real differences. Do I look down on other groups of people? Unfortunately yes. This is the problem and this is where I can start to resolve it. I can work on my mind and remove all these differences as they aren’t real and they are the beginnings of all the problems I see in the world around me.
The capacity to love
The key thing that binds us all together is our capacity to love. Everyone has this – everyone! Even someone who has done many atrocious acts still has the capacity for love. The capacity for love is enough reason to see that we’re all the same. Love is endless and can be extended to everyone. It never runs out.
Once we see that we are all connected by our capacity to love, we begin to see that the differences we’ve thought that were between us are just illusions. Respect and compassion begins to grow for everyone. Once this begins to grow, you’ll start to feel the infinite value and power of love and see how silly our previously imagined differences really were. This is the beginning of real change.
We can remove the differences from our minds (they are only in our minds – even things like nationality are only concepts that we’ve made up in our minds and imposed on our world) and see the real bond we have with each other. The capacity to love. Love is not something we’ve made up, it’s an innate capacity we all have. Extend this loving capacity as far as we can and the atrocities we see in the world will decrease.
Accepting that we are not so different is a critical step. More love is the only way forward (if you have trouble with the word “love”, try “acceptance”) and the only way guaranteed to stop the awful atrocities we’re seeing all too often these days.