Fear of the ‘other’ is such a powerful motivator – throughout history it has been used as the justification for isolation, separation, vilification, subjugation and ultimately, for war.
Most of us have a deep seated desire to belong, to find our lot, the ones who look like us, think like us, the ones who believe in the same things we believe in. There is a great sense of comfort when you are amongst your own. But no challenge, no extension; curiosity and discovery can become limited as we fail to see beyond our own borders.
Neatly divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’ it also becomes easy to separate us further, playing one off against the other, accentuating the differences, overlooking the common ground.
My lived experience of the human condition is simply that there is much more that unites us than that divides. Peel away the superficial layers of difference – skin colour, language, religion, cultural background, sexuality and we find the same muscle and sinew, the same beating heart and while our thought processes may differ, our dreams and aspirations are so often closely aligned.
With unity comes strength, diversity, resources. There is always a better way to do something, ways that have yet to be dreamed or imagined. Too often those who hold the most power assume they have all the answers, when too often they haven’t even identified the relevant questions.
We need to stop fighting each other and instead work together to defeat the common foe, be it poverty, injustice, poor health literacy, turf wars, egocentric and sector centric protocols, addictions, isolation, damaging workplace cultures and so on.
Then, and I believe only then, by harnessing the true power and wisdom of the collective, will we overcome the artificial barriers which hold us all back. We need to build purposeful partnerships, understanding that we will never truly integrate if we actually set out to dominate.