My favorite children’s book is called Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. It is a beautifully illustrated story with one resounding message: we are all the same. The story depicts people groups from around the world and the many differences that exist, but circles back to what is shared by all human beings:
“But inside their hearts are just like yours, whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world. Their smiles are like yours, and they laugh just like you. Their hurts are like yours, and they cry like you, too, whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world.”
The message from this story is one that I carry in my heart with deep resonance and conviction: In the midst of our many differences, at our core, we are the same. Because of this thread of shared humanity, we do ourselves a disservice when we create an ‘us and them’. ‘Us and Them’ happens when we form a protective barrier around ourselves to keep those who are different at a distance… Specifically, when we draw close to only those who look, act, and think like we do and turn away from a nameless and faceless ‘other’. We form these lines around race, gender, socio-economic status, religion, politics, and so many other beliefs. In ‘us and them’ thinking it is easy to point the finger and make strong generalizations and accusations without really knowing ‘the other’. We lose sight that the ‘other’ is a human with a body and a heart and the capacity to feel – just like ‘us’.
Recently I have seen ‘us and them’ in full force with the increased elevation in controversy around vaccines. While this is a highly complex and controversial subject with deep conviction and emotion held on both sides, is it really something to create division over? Is it really worth creating ‘us and them’? Is it worth losing sight of the fact that we ALL have a shared common interest in the health and wellness of human beings? My eyes have fallen upon so many outlandish and clearly biased articles written by good people from both sides of the debate… people who otherwise seem balanced and evolved. I have read news articles from respectable journals that border on bullying and blog commentary that has escalated into outright name-calling. This is ‘us and them’ at it’s finest; it has a blinding capacity. Fear, anger, and conviction have lead us to identify with a certain ‘us’ around the topic of vaccinations and easily, all too easily, we have moved quickly to point the finger at the ‘them’ – whoever that is according to the ‘us’ we’ve aligned with.
Please, highly evolved people, let’s not do this! Let’s research and let’s debate and let’s get heated (because it is a hot topic), but let’s do it with respect. Let’s do it with openness and understanding and a willingness to listen and learn. Let’s do it with the acknowledgement that we are all in this thing together. Let’s do it with the remembrance that, “inside their hearts are just like yours, whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world. Their smiles are like yours, and they laugh just like you. Their hurts are like yours, and they cry like you, too, whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world.”
Let’s do it with the awareness that above ‘us and them’ is ‘we’ – a powerful collective ‘we’ that is sharing space on a planet together at a certain point in time to do profound things!
Author: Erica McLaughlin is a Therapeutic Bodywork Practitioner specializing in Embodiment. She strongly believes in the healing power that comes when we provide ourselves a quiet space to connect the body and mind. In this space our true essence has a chance to emerge, offering the greatest gift of healing: self-acceptance.