Try To Understand Each Other

“In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other!” - John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

We are here because our ancestors survived. Our ancestors survived because they were smart enough to overcome hardships and threats to their existence. Our brains are hardwired for biological survival. When we do something that aids our survival, our mind reinforces that pattern and seeks to keep us repeating it at the expense of changing or moving toward new modes of thinking. 

Origins of Fear, Anxiety, and Hate

One pattern that can arise from this biological need for survival and procreation is fear. If our ancestors saw the grass moving on the Sahara, they had a spike of fear and ran for their lives. This reaction most likely contributed to their survival. It could have led to their death if they were calorically stricken, but for the sake of argument, let’s say genes of fear, and anxiety were selected for. These can be extrapolated to all sources of threats including other tribes. 

Other tribes offer an additional threat to pre-civilized groups. They were a threat that most likely had a similar level of intelligence (tool-making, etc.), and they actively hunted other groups. So other tribes were essentially super predators. Therefore, it is no wonder that for people who look and or act differently than us, we tend toward at the very least creating networks that do not include them and at most forming a deep-seated hatred toward them. It is not clear to what degree or extent social conditioning has on this. It surely has some impact, but it is tough to separate the two. 

To survive, we can see that we as humans have been bred to be fearful, anxious, and hateful. When viewed in this light, it is no wonder that we have so many issues in the world. Without a great deal of conscious awareness, we do not see when we are perpetuating such actions.

We Act Out of Fear, Anxiety, and Hate

In modern-day, many people go to jobs that are at best not fulfilling. This lack of desire is only part of the issue. The reason that people go to these jobs is not out of a desire to improve the company, or themselves, it is out of fear. We fear that we will not have enough money, we fear that we won’t do a good job and will get fired. We act from a place of fear and anxiety; it is no wonder prescription medications for such ailments are spiraling out of control while the suicide rate increases. 

We spend much of our day trying to survive. Many of our actions are designed to help keep us alive. Most of our efforts are rooted in biological survival and procreation. Many of these actions and habits are unconscious. For many of us, this no longer needs to be the case. This assertion is not to say that there are not vast poor, racially charged places in the world. These scenarios are real and a relevant focus point. However, for an ever-increasing portion of the population, we have enough to survive. We have the potential to thrive. However, we cannot seem to step up to the plate. 

We have beer, we have the sun, and we have each other, what else could we want?- Greek Stranger

Creating a Shift

What is it that we need to do to start perpetuating a shift? 

The very first thing is to focus on ourselves and how we show up in the world. We must be open to the potential that we are wrong and that many of the things that we have been taught are wrong. We must be open to the notion that we as a people are all very much more alike than we are different. We are all imperfect beings merely seeking love, attention, and belonging.

Another critical aspect of creating a shift is that of gratitude. We so often focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do. I can never forget when I was in Greece right after their first financial crisis. I was in the bar with a local and was intoxicated enough to ask him a question bluntly “You all are not doing so well financially, how are you so happy?” His response was “We have beer, we have the sun, and we have each other, what else could we want?” This response has stuck with me over many years. We have been programmed to gain many things because that is what will make us happy when in reality, many times we already have what we need. We only need to be thankful for what it is that we already have. 

All Journeys Begin With One Step

This journey starts with one small step. This path is a step into conscious awareness. This notion means to be aware of our thoughts in the present moment. The present moment is the only moment that we have. It is the meeting place of the past and the future. We act the way we do now because of our past experiences. We will get what we do in the future because of the way in which we operate now in the present moment. The present is also a powerful decision point. It is the only moment in time in which we can act. We can take action and decide to either fall into the unconscious, default pattern of self-centeredness, hate, anxiety, and fear or we can choose to come back to our true home. 

Our true home is the place within us that tells us what we need to know. Many people call this the “gut” or the “heart center.” This place is where our compassionate side resides. This locus is where our understanding and bonding with other human beings can take place. This origin is where the knowledge that we are all very similar originates. We are all alone in our heads. We all seek happiness, fulfillment, purpose, joy, love, and compassion. We all want to lead long, meaningful, safe, lives where we feel connected and have a sense of belonging. These are all rooted in our biology. These are the threads that kept the tribe together in hard times.

The Global Tribe

These again are hard times. Our tribe is going through massive growing pains as we combine to become global. These issues will not iron themselves out overnight. The only way to start working on these deep-seated negative emotions is to talk them out, to have long-form dialogue. We should seek to understand here and not respond. We should attempt to humanize and personalize every single person. We need to work to not atomize the individual but to focus on their unique qualities and gifts. It is easy to apply hate to a group; it is not so easy to use hate toward a single person. We are missing the individual for the group right now more than ever. If there is any hope, we must bring it back to an individual level where we each have a story, we each can love and cultivate compassion. We must do this; we must nurture this inner candle, this inner light. We cannot do it for anyone else. However, when our flame is bright, it will help to ignite and brighten the candles within others as well. This candle by candle approach will change the world for the better.