Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Illusion of Difference

As I pointed out in my 9-11 posting, I'm deeply troubled by the state of our world today. All too often we as a human family are content to divide ourselves into arbitrary groups and then go about trash-talking and dispising those artificial distinctions that we've created. The killings in the Amish school yesterday brought this even more to my attention today. Here we have a man who had some grudge against young girls so he takes his anger out on a completely different group of girls just because they appear to him to fit the arbitrary group that offended him. Personally, I am at a loss tying to think of a less threatening group of people in the world than grade school, Amish girls. Perhaps maybe premature newborns in ICUs. I just don't get it. What is this world coming to?
I've never felt like I was much of a poet or even that I was good at getting my emotions and my ideas into words. Former President Clinton had an interview on Fox News last week. Lost in all the publicity over Clinton loosing his temper was a very profound quote. (I should let you know that I don't really have any serious ethos problems when using quotes. I may or may not agree with the overall opinions of the quoted but if they manage to hit the nail on the head I'll be sure to give them credit for it.) Clinton told interviewer Tim Russert that the biggest problem confronting the world today is "the illusion that our differences matter more than our common humanity." I have tried since I first heard it to put this statement into my own words and I have failed. This statements seems to include everything from terrorism and school shootings all the way down to sibling rivalry. It describes most every conflict going on in the world today no matter how large or how small.
In his book The Art of Happiness His Holiness the Dalai Lama encouraged people to reach out to those that you esteme to be your enemy and befriend them. Christ encouraged us to "Bless them that curse you. Do good to those who despitefully use you". As dificult as this is to actually put into practice personally I am at a complete loss as to how to teach this principle to others and make a large scale difference in the world. My constant prayer is that I will be able to simply master this skill in my own life and my own interactions. Then hopefully the example will be felt by others.



  1. as insignificant as you feel trying to Wage Peace as an individual, think of the other Indivuduals that have attempted the same. Not very often does the human race have an army of Peace spreading across the nations. But a FEW individuals having a LASTING impact on their little circle is all it takes. You mentioned a couple and already compared their teachings. Add to your list the likes of Mother Teresa and Gandhi who, in their own way and time Feverishly Waged Peace for themselves and those around them. We need more of this type soldier.

  2. You must be the change you want to see in the world.
    Mahatma Gandhi