People are different. It’s pretty apparent in today’s day and age.
But when you really think about it, how different are people, really?
We all have cells, skin, blood, a body, a brain (most of us, anyway), wants, desires and fears. Each one of us is the product of millions of years of evolution, from itty-bitty amino acids to single-celled organisms and bacteria to the complicated life form you see in the mirror today.
Are we really so different after all?
We’re born, we grow, we succeed, we fail, we laugh, we cry, we try to experience all this life and this reality has to offer, and then we die. No one makes it out alive (barring a Matrix-like computer consciousness).
Which got me thinking. Is there a way to connect and communicate with people from all different walks of life? Can someone in a developed western country empathize and understand a person in a developing country, or heaven forbid, a place like Aleppo? How about vice versa?
Well, I’m here to tell you that the answer is yes. In a sense.
We think of ourselves as individuals, and from the perspective of an individual, we are. You have your own consciousness and a blend of nature and nurture that causes you to view your reality in a very specific way.
Two people could see the same car accident and perceive it in two very different ways. How could we not think of ourselves as individuals?
But, if you think about it a bit deeper, you start to realize that you’re just one small part of the overall fabric of the Universe. You were born from stars, just like everything else, and when you move onto whatever’s after this, your matter will be used to create something new.
You see, we’re more connected than you think. And you’re connected even while you live.
Your body interacts with your surroundings in ways you rarely think about. Your porous skin is constantly letting things into your body and letting things leave your body. The world around you is affected and changed by your actions, and in turn, you and your actions are affected and changed by the world around you.
And, believe it or not, we’re even connected before we’re ever born.
A lot of people believe in the collective unconscious of humanity. It’s a summation of learning that our species has conducted over the millennia. It sounds woo-woo, and to an extent, it is. But many people - including leading scientists - think that language skills, survival traits, and bits of historical knowledge are hard-coded into our DNA, helping our species flourish.
So, we really are standing on the shoulders of giants, because our ancestors have helped us by passing on their information and knowledge.
And in that way, from birth, to life, to death, we’re more connected to one another than anyone realizes.
Therefore, we can all connect with each other from a place of universal truth. What’s a universal truth? Well, it’s something that rings “true” to anyone who sees it, hears it, or says it.
I came to this conclusion while writing my most recent novel. When you’re creating a story, the most important part is to make it truthful. No, that’s not to say that you can’t write fiction. What it means is that there are certain situations that seem real to a reader, and other situations that seem false.
You can write a story about a meteor crashing into Earth and killing everyone (like I did), and as long as the people in the story act according to how the reader thinks they’d actually act, then the story is true. If, on the other hand, the characters act completely contradictory to what feels right in the reader’s gut, then the story will ring false.
So too is real life.
Humans act in certain ways in certain situations. There’s a spectrum, of course, and some people do both terrible and amazing things that we can’t even fathom, but at the root level, everyone acts the same. We’re hardwired to do certain things in certain situations. It’s survival.
Which means that we can relate to almost anyone, in a sense.
We can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and ponder how we’d act. We can not only sympathize with someone but actually empathize with them. We can speak from a place of universal truth so that everyone else understands. And we can look through a lens of universal truth so that we understand.
Next time you look at someone who seems different than you, realize that you’re not so different after all.
And then when it’s time to communicate with the people around you, look, listen, and speak from a place of universal truth. Don’t worry, people will understand.