When it comes to our families, we sometimes see only our differences. We see the way our parents cling to ideas we don’t believe, or act in ways we try not to act. We see how practical one of our siblings is and wonder how we can be from the same gene pool. Similarly, within the human family we see how different we are from each other, in ways ranging from gender and race to geographical location and religious beliefs. It is almost as if we think we are a different species sometimes. But the truth is, in our personal families as well as the human family, we really are the same.
A single mother of four living in Africa looks up at the same stars and moon that shine down on an elderly Frenchman in Paris. A Tibetan monk living in India, a newborn infant in China, and a young couple saying their marriage vows in Indiana all breathe the same air, by the same process. We have all been hurt and we have all cried. Each one of us knows how it feels to love someone dearly. No matter what our political views are, we all love to laugh. Regardless of how much or how little money we have, our hearts pump blood through our bodies in the same way. With all this in common, it is clear we are each individual members of the same family. We are human.
Acknowledging how close we all are, instead of clinging to what separates us, enables us to feel less alone in the world. Every person we meet, see, hear, or read about, is a member of our family. We are truly not alone. We also begin to see that we are perfectly capable of understanding and relating to people who, on the surface, may seem very different from us. This awareness prevents us from disconnecting from people on the other side of the tracks, and the other side of the world. We begin to understand that we must treat all people for what they are—family.