So Many Faces, So Many Differences?
Just because we look different doesn’t mean that we are. That concept may be hard to imagine since, with the exception of identical twins, it’s easy to look around and see the diversity in outward appearances in the human race, such as eye and hair color combinations, body types, foot and hand size and so on. In fact, not only do we notice these differences, we tend to hyper-focus on them and even demean and ridicule people who are “too different” from us. And it’s not just variances in physical characteristics that we notice; it’s emotional or behavioral characteristics as well.
Despite a variety of outward appearances, we are surprisingly similar on the inside. Science tells us that human DNA is 99.9% the same from person to person. Imagine holding two pieces of blue paper up next to each other and being told there is a .1% variance between them. Do you think you would be able to detect the difference?
By contrast, however, we easily detect the different features in each other, but these distinctions are cosmetic only. When we dig deeper into the reality of the human being, we can see that we are almost the exact same.
And though we are often unaware of it and we rarely celebrate it, this is a connection that bonds us as humans.
Just below the surface of the skin, it becomes almost impossible to tell the difference between each of us.
A healthy red blood cell under a microscope could belong to any one of us who has healthy red blood cells. It would be nearly impossible to recognize your friends and family members if this was the way we identified each other. The deeper we look, from a cellular level to a subatomic level .¨ we see indisputable evidence that we are more similar than we are different.
The Concept of Different
We are taught the concept of “different”. But, we are taught this through the point of view of “bad” or “unacceptable” rather than something to encourage and celebrate.
As we grow through childhood we are taught by our parents and others in society that we are different from others and others are different from us and that this is not desirable. The message, “staying with your own kind is best, safest and most acceptable” is loud and clear. Add to this the training we get to identify ourselves based on stuff outside of us, “the more I have the more I am”, rather than based on what’s inside and you have the recipe for the Concept of Different.
We get covert messages about how we measure up which can make us feel different. We often hear parents, teachers and other adults around us talking about social gatherings we couldn’t join in on for one reason or another, half-heard conversations about our so-called challenges or “issues” and all of the other non-verbal cues we received that gave us a sense that we are not good enough. We feel different, lonely and helpless.
Somewhere along the line, these mixed and misplaced messages take their toll on our self-esteem, self-love and our ability to be who we truly are.
These messages formed a powerful pain
that stays with us for years until we become aware of it, if ever.
A major issue that also arises is the message that we must conform to what those around us think is acceptable in order to be “admitted to the group” and be loved. This misaligned teaching is amazingly pervasive throughout the world. With this as a condition for maneuvering through life, it’s hard to know how and when to truly be yourself. As a society, we need to realize the faulty system we have set up does not nurture individual differences while celebrating and honoring our similarities in a cohesive, healthy format.
Another issue is that we have somehow translated different to also mean separate.
We are so disconnected from how easy it is to make a person feel “wrong” or like an outsider just because we see them as different on the outside that we rarely think about the great cost this can have on that person’s life.
We must realize that different does not mean separate because no one is truly separate from another. This can be easily proven. If one person is facing another eating a lemon, the second person begins to salivate even though s/he does not have a lemon. It is obvious that the concept of separate is a misperception of our deep connectedness to each other. The magic number 99.9% comes to mind.
The Concept of Separate
Not only do we see each other as different, we think of each other as separate from everyone else on the planet. If we manage to find a connection to someone we make a huge deal about it since we do not understand the connection we already have to everyone and everything on the planet.
We like being part of a group, though, because humans are social animals so thinking that we are separate from each other is an unresolvable concept for us. We work around this by making exceptions so that we can feel more connected to others and vice versa. We set up what I call a “Circle of Exceptions” when it comes to the Concept of Different. It seems that if someone looks different, but is not too different from us, we will accept them.
Additionally, if someone is looks different but thinks or acts like us, we tend to make an exception to include them in our Circle. Allowing them in the Circle doesn’t keep us from talking about them, pointing out to others how “weird” they are or making snide remarks about physical differences. But, we add to our Circle so that we can create the fa‚àö√üade of being connected to others.
The joke is on the teaching we received about different and separate .¨ we are already connected. There is no need for a fa‚àö√üade and all of the hard work and mental games that accompany it.
We can rest easy and rest assured that we are never alone with an entire planet as our family members.
We Are All Connected
The ties that bind us together into one human family run deep.
This week, practice getting used to this Concept of Connectedness. As you look at each person with whom you come in contact, look into their eyes, say hello with a sense of a deeper connection rather than a topical one. Look at another person and realize that they are almost the exact same as you under the skin and that the cosmetic differences are immaterial and interesting at best.
Begin dissolving the Concepts of Different and Separate .¨ these are just myths we have been taught. Any differences we have do not ultimately define any of as acceptable, worthy or lovable. Know that the real part of all of us exists within us rather than outside of us.
So go ahead, do whatever you wish to the exterior
– paint it, change your hair color, dress it up, dress it down .¨ it matters not for it is not who we all truly are. Don’t let yourself be bothered by someone who looks vastly different than you. Get used to embracing our minor differences for the reward of gaining a family of 7 billion (and I haven’t even included the plant or animal kingdoms). You are never alone. There is nothing wrong with you. Welcome to your world-wide family. Come as you are.