On understanding, through connection

The ability to communicate is essential for connection. Without communication, it is difficult to recognise the other for what they are. Language comes in so many forms. Through talking, eye contact, gesturing, expression, meaning can be passed from being to being. Life comes in endless shapes, sizes, species, forms and it is nearly impossible to understand ourselves, let alone other creatures. It is much easier to understand something that has similar characteristics to you than something completely different. For example, to understand a human is easier understanding a bird. With a bird no spoken language, facial expressions or gestures can be offered, so it is very hard to tell what a bird is thinking. And so we relegate it to a different form of life. Something less important than being human, because it can’t tell us that it is. The same goes for all other animals too. Pigs, dogs, cows, whales, snakes, butterflies. Try having a conversation with one of these animals and learning what is really going in their brains.

But what about different humans? People who speak other languages, or have a mental or physical disability, communicate in alternate ways to how someone without them would. There is less communication, less connection, and thus less ability to recognise the other as what they truly are. Or someone who comes from another culture, another class, another sexuality, another religion, another caste, another status. It’s the same story. What is the result of this? We treat them differently because we think that what we know is right. And whatever is different must, by default, be wrong.

This belief has led to the systemic mass slaughter of animals for food, racism, terrorism, genocide, war, sexism, misogyny, slavery, discrimination, segregation, bigotry, inequality, hatred. The victims of all of the above is due to a deprivation of knowledge and understanding the other. People are easy to convince and easily led to believe assumptions. And as the world is such a big place, it is easy to become accustomed to what you know, or what is the common consensus, or what you simply haven’t experienced.

How could you possibly know the feeling of falling in love with a person of the same sex if you have never fallen in love with someone of your own sex? How can you know what it feels like to know with all your heart that God is Allah, or Jesus, or Krishna? It’s hard to believe in something you have never experienced personally. But because it’s not easy, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. With empathy, openness to thinking about something in a different way, eyes unclouded by a sense of righteousness, no previous conceptions of what something should act or look or move or live like, we could really understand everything in life. We would realise that all species have a right to live, that all humans deserve to be treated equally with love and compassion, that there is no ‘other’, that we all rise and fall on Earth and we are all connected.

So lets open our eyes and see everything for how it truly is.


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