Ty Phillips helps us push past our differences to the humanity that unites us.
I open my eyes in the the dim light of dawn and stretch. I sit up, run my fingers through my growing mop of hair, pull my skull cap on, walk up the stairs and down 20 ounces of water. Waddling over to the recliner, I sit on the floor and pull out my phone and click on the facebook icon. My screen turns bright white and I cringe a little as my eyes adjust to the brightness.
Jenner transforms, Nepal in turmoil, Costa Rica bans sport hunting, Ex-Muslims of America, Pro-Israel Peoples Union; I scroll through the feed, paying little attention to most of it, rolling my eyes at some, laughing at others and yet noticing a theme through most; designations.
We love to take a title—a name, a group—anything that makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. I am a Buddhist, you are a Christian, she is a Muslim, they are vegan, they are paleo, and the list goes on. We mingle with our clicks, write blogs about being lumbersexual or feminist, and yet, miss the point and simplicity of the shared, single, human experience.
Most of us probably wake in a similar fashion, and share a similar stretch. We probably all have bad breath, stinky pits, and messy hair. We stumble to sinks and wash our faces of sleep and sheet wrinkles, maybe cough to open our lungs, and sit down to a beverage of choice.
In none of these actions though, are we uniquely something aside from human. My Buddhist morning breath is not distinct from your Hindu morning breath, and her smelly pits are not distinct from his smelly pits. These are simply human experiences. They bear no title, need no border, and struggle with no need for identity.
We miss this often though. We fight over policy and ideology, killing for gods and politicians, all in the name of identity. This intangible and ungraspable, idea of separation. And there it is. That keyword, separation. This is what we create, not better policies, not greater love, not different morning breath, just a sense of separation because my god is better than yours.
Now, while not all names and groups need be done away with, I do wonder how much more beautiful it would be if we focused not on the name but on the person. The man or woman that shares the same air, the same water, the same laughter and sadness that you and I experience. That simple human being who struggles to find peace and security in life and finds the same sense of close happiness in a warm embrace.
So while I take your hand in love as a Buddhist when you are a Jew, I find something more important than what is different. I see the human smile that lights up your eyes, that human heart beats in your chest, the sense of belonging in that shared human hug, not because it was foretold in some long lost scripture, or demanded by some person, but because like me, you also deserve peace.
Maybe, when we take each others hands, we realize that there is no Buddhist way to offer them, not Islamic way to accept them, but there is the way of friends, as lovers, as family, or simply as humans; as you and me, as we and they. I see this clearly when my daughter reachers up her arms and says, “Daddy, hold me.” She never asks, “Buddhist, Atheist, male, bearded guy, straight guy, or gay guy, hold me,” just daddy. It is me she wants, not what I hold on to as a separator.
So, take my hand, as a human, as a life, as someone who wants happiness, and walk with me into a future that wants a similar sense of peace and love. Walk with me as just who you are.