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As a child, I used to sometimes be caught unawares by the striking thought that the world was full of people, billions of people, and every one of those people has a story. They work, they love, they eat, sleep, pray and dream. They sing and laugh and cry. They have and they lose. They have children, or siblings, or friends. They have parents.
Every Picture Tells A Story
My own life, the people and things in it, would suddenly seem almost inconsequential when looked at as such a small part of such a big world, a world where other people’s lives held the same importance for them as my world held for me. As an adult, this thought makes my life seem less inconsequential and more connected, even though I won’t ever meet 99.9% of the people I feel connected to.
It simply serves to remind me that people, all people, myself included, share a common humanity. My daughter has a beautiful storybook which features the lines:
“Joys are the same, and love is the same
Pain is the same, and blood is the same”.
It is almost impossible for me to read this passage aloud without choking up, simply because of the perfect truth in it. It is something we forget every day, every time we make a judgment without knowing all the facts, every time we forget to give the benefit of the doubt. Every time we overlook the humanity in another. No matter how different we think we are, every person feels joy and love, everyone experiences sorrow, anger and loss.
Every Person Has a History
Everyone plays their own part, all of us, so many lives crossing paths or never meeting, moving on again and again, like an endless dance, like a kaleidoscope of living, blooming over and over again, forever. It has been going on for ages, and it will continue after we are gone. Everyone carries their own past with them, their own history, and when it is someone we know, we are more familiar with that past, which may make it easier for us to understand and accept them.
When we remind ourselves that everyone has a story, not just the people who feature in our lives, that everyone is someone, a human being with something to give, a creature of flesh and blood and bone and feeling, just like ourselves, we remember to approach and receive others with greater empathy. We often cannot know or even guess at the reasons for a stranger’s anger, or carelessness, or sadness.
What we can remember is that we have all had these emotions too – we have all had the ups and downs, the joy and the sadness, the stories that make us human. When we remember that we all have this common core, when we reach out with a gesture of compassion – a smile, a helping hand, or even a refusal to retaliate when faced with rudeness – we create better stories for ourselves and for everyone around us.
Image courtesy of aopsan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net