The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

WENDELL BERRY

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The quest to discover each other’s humanity. Imagine!

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Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.   – Alexander Smith

There is a strategy I suggest teachers use when their students get two concepts confused; things like mitosis and meiosis, latitude and longitude, respiration and photosynthesis, similes and metaphors.  I tell them to teach the differences first because the human brain identifies difference and therefore by discussing how two items, terms or concepts are different, before we talk about their similarities, the distinction is clear.

Sadly, this amazing facet of the brain and how we learn, has considerable consequences for our relationships with others and, at times, our humanity.  If we unconsciously identify difference we see only how others are separate from us, are unlike us and therefore we can fail to connect.

If I see only your different coloured skin, your different language, your different rituals and customs, your different style of worship, your different sexuality; I fail to immediately see the points where we are the same.  Too often this quirk of the brain is abused by media trying to create divide. Groups are labelled, individuals and their human story are ignored to install fear, create derision, to divide us.  Sometimes these tactics are employed by governments to force us into line in support of what may be inhumane, immoral or unjust policy decisions (think the refusal to take in refugees).

You see, once I identify you as a person, with a history, with feelings, with hopes and dreams, I can’t ignore your plight. I am almost compelled to come to your aid, support you, vouch for you.  My fear is gone when I realise you and I are women, we have families, we have struggled, we have loved. Yes, our backgrounds and life experience may differ, we may worship differently, dress differently but whittle away the circumstances of our birth and we are both humans, raw and needy, intelligent and courageous, feisty and loving. This bonding would not serve government but it might just serve the longevity of the human race on this little planet of ours.

In the words of John Lennon, imagine what the world would be like if we sought our points of connection and bonded before acknowledging our differences? Imagine what the world would be like if we presumed positive intent rather than assumed others meant us harm. Imagine what the world would be like if we were positive by design rather than negative by default.  Imagine what the world would be like if we sought to discover each other’s humanity. Imagine what the world would be like.  Imagine!

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