We are much more alike than we are different, and if you truly know yourself then you will understand this to be a very real and true statement.
As I continue to write more and more my mind takes me to places that maybe I hadn’t explored before, or more to the point ignored.
I spend much time with the public in lots of different ways; my wife Bhavani and I cut hair in a shelter once a month and for the past two years have spoken to so many lost souls, but also very intelligent and funny people.
I work in a barbershop 40 hours a week so meet many men from all backgrounds, and I also run a meditation group and meet a whole host of characters during my Sunday night sessions with them.
Lastly, I have started my yoga teacher training with the opportunity to spend time with many like-minded men and women once a week within a space where I feel safe and respected.
The idea I wish to ponder today is about where we all feel most at home - is it only around those people who mirror us physically or is it on a deeper level than that?
Do we search out those who make us feel whole and is this the community in which we live, work and play in?
And if this is our community and also the place where we live, is our chosen community just another way to segregate away from those who we don’t recognize in ourselves?
Community; Noun, a group of people living in the same place or having a characteristic in common.
Tribe; Noun, a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious or blood ties.
Let’s start with those two words, Tribe and Community. Look at the short definitions above and see the similarities between these words. Ask yourself what they imply to you?
I see two words with a very strong thread running through them, and that is one of humans coming together and being stronger for it.
As a race we find comfort in the things we recognize about who we are within those around us. So, if this is the case and we see ourselves as a social and interactive spices then why is it our communities are only formed with those we see as being equal to us and not with everyone?
Instead of our tribe being about caring for others and our community being open-hearted to all who wish to come into the fold, aren’t we using these two words as just another way to segregate other races, creeds, religions and sexual orientations?
Money is also used to keep community’s together or apart, the rich live and stay in one area and the poor in another.
I would like us to start to see that all people regardless of who they are and where they come from have as sharing same fundamental wants and needs.
As I said before, I meet people from many backgrounds and the common goals in life is always the same... are you happy? Are you hungry? Do you have shelter, and do you feel safe and non-threatened?
Regardless of whether you’re Jewish or Muslim, white or black, gay or transgender, rich or poor these few things are what the humans on this planet are seeking.
We all need to be loved and we all want to protect our family. We are all looking for the same thing, so why the need to pigeonhole ourselves and others in order to do this and why restrict the size of the community we live in?
I have the same needs as a woman in Shanghai, so why don’t I feel she is part of my community?
Now, I know what you’re going to say; 5,800 miles is a long way and that’s too far to feel connected to anyone or another race. But let’s just look a little closer to home and really break this down. Do you know your next-door neighbour? How about next door-but-one, or the people who live across the road from you?
If you’re still saying yes that’s wonderful because in 2015 a yougov.co.uk study found that only 1 in 4 people in the UK know the next-door neighbour and 67% have never invited the people next door in for a drink or meal.
Let’s keep going then, say three roads away... do you connect with the families that are living that close by? How are we doing? Are we now out of the ‘range’ of who we know? Are these people part of the so-called community you live in?
The point I’m making is that if you are using geography as a reason not to understand other people on this planet then it just won’t wash!
The tribe or community we live in has become so small it may now be just you and the person you live with that you feel a connection with; so how do we change our view of others in our space and what’s the real limit to your connection with the people in your community?
Connect with people regardless of where they come from and open your heart to the needs of those around you.
Let’s start to see each other as part of a global tribe one with no boundaries. Because we do affect each other. If put a plastic bottle into a stream or river near me it could wash up as waste anywhere on the planet; if you use a car the carbon emission gases go up into the atmosphere and affect anyone that shares the planet.
I can and do feel for the people in war-torn parts of the world; I am aware of the impact when I use palm oil or drink coffee. I am part of the whole - just as you are. We all live in a community that is bigger than our family or street, we our members of this planet. Brothers and sisters sharing the same water, land, and atmosphere; we are made from the same atoms and all have the same basic needs.
If you don’t exclude anyone then we are all part of the same community and all have a deep connection and bond that binds us all, Australia, Syria, China, India, Canada or the North pole, wherever you are I feel you!
We should all be aware of our community and respect that we share this small planet together. We all belong, and all have the right to love and be loved, regardless of what we look like or where we are placed on the planet….
So, as we enter a New Year and take time to consider our plans for the next 12 months, be mindful that you’re not alone, that you do matter and that we all impact each other’s lives everyday.
Connect with everyone because we are all one community: The Human Race.
The planet needs us more than ever so let’s start to share our responsibility for her.
Please take time to sit and send your love and kindness to everyone, it will make a difference.
Be well my friends, take care and give a stranger a smile today.
Mahesh Hayward is a regular Lush Life columnist writing on the challenges of Modern Life and Wellbeing