I told someone the other day that we humans are basically the same—that we share the same basic needs; want the same things. This person indulged in a good long sigh and said, “Man, that’s a good theory, but it’s awfully hard to believe it when you see how hard we fight each other in defense of our differences.”
This stopped me for a minute and I thought, Ahhh yes, he’s right, isn’t he? More often than not, the differences overwhelm any apparent similarities.
But then I thought—when you strip us of the “add-ons”; i.e., our cultural differences, our generational influences, our gender differential, our power struggles, our ego defenses, and all the false belief systems we have accumulated over time—we all still want the exact same thing: Love. Love (or the devastating absence of it) is at the center of every life. We want to give it and we want to receive it. We want to share it. And we will defend ourselves vigorously against any threat to the free and personal expression of that virtue. If you do harm to my people, I will most likely retaliate in some way: by thought, word, or deed. Unless we learn to rise above it, pure protective tribal instinct will always reign.
Aside from the Love we seek, our survival also depends on the Light we require—Light, which many mystics (and even physicists) say is the Supersubstance of all creation. So if we are all made of Light and we all seek Love, why all the violence and chaos?
Violence and chaos do not arise from Light or Love, but from fear and insecurity. Violence and chaos arise from the fear that there is not enough Love or Light to go around. That if you take more than your share, you will diminish mine.
I believe that at the core, our insecurities all derive from the two fundamental unanswered questions of our lives: 1) Where did we come from? and 2) Where are we going? These two overarching narrative questions address the struggle across all of human history, but especially religious struggles.
Religions have formed themselves almost entirely around these primary unknowns. Even great religious institutions can be suspect when it comes to answering these questions, however, because like all institutions (and civilizations), their survival depends on the protection of power. In truth, there are layers of out-of-date philosophical tarnish and cultural sludge wrapped around us and our churches. In the end, no one can tell us the exact answers to those questions. Inspired human figures have given us good ideas, but no particulars (thus the need for faith).
I would argue that our deepest spiritual Truths were harvested from information that is and always has been imprinted on every created soul. Together, we have the Answer. Identifying with the superficial differences between us allows us only a tenuous grip on one small corner of this giant existential human tapestry. Instead of pondering these questions together, instead of learning from and admiring yours, mine and ours, we are (with exceptions of course) mostly wasting all of human history fighting for control of one piece of truth. I for one am ready to transcend this extremely limiting style of operation. Are you with me?