Last night, as my friends and I were discussing bearing one anothers’ burdens and working up the nerve to really share what our burdens are, it occurred to me that we spend a lot of time looking for how we’re different. While, in reality, there’s a lot more to find that is the same about us. All six of us sat scattered about the room, eyes fixed on distant walls, avoiding eye contact, thinking. It doesn’t bother me (yet) that we don’t bare our wounds to one another with ease. It doesn’t bother me (yet) that we haven’t stripped off our masks and asked for help with the burdens that are burying us alive sometimes. And I say ‘yet’ because I know we are moving toward this. We are finding out that our similarities are more important than our differences and in that truth, we are finding the comfort that will allow us to speak up, make eye contact and carry, collectively, the weights we heft. And yet, I say ‘yet’ also because if we fail to reach that degree of vulnerability, then I will be bothered that our masked stay fastened.
Because we are more similar than different. And we’re all fed up, f’ed up, etc. Every single person is broken, even those that don’t know they are. What if that thing that props them up and makes them feel complete should fail?
So, why aren’t we spending more time finding common ground? As Americans, we’ve all grown up holding words like independent and unique on a pedestal while words with similar meanings like foreign, minority, freak, and outsider are laced with negative connotation. How much pain and hate has been the profits of endeavoring to find and magnify our differences? Racism, misogyny, Classism, Xenophobia? I wonder how many of us are more content to be leery of our neighbors based on something as temporal as a political bumper sticker that to try to find similarities.
And what would happen if we started to view the people around us as more similar to us than different? Would we have more compassion on them? I think we probably would. This is the concept behind loving your neighbor as yourself. You wouldn’t subject yourself to hate or pain. You wouldn’t want yourself to go through life feeling outcast. You wouldn’t want yourself to be written off completely based on a single opinion. You want to feel loved and wanted. You want to feel a part of something.
I want to stop thinking about myself as different and start thinking about myself as the same. I was to stop thinking about how different you are than me and start finding the ways we’re the same, and in that, I want to start being real with you. I want you to share in my brokenness and my victories, and I want to share in yours.