We Are One

We’ve all seen the footage in the past week of the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that shook the country of Japan and the resulting tsunami.  It has left us feeling great sorrow and still we have found great hope.  Living on the other side of the world, there is no way for me to fathom the magnitude of the destruction or what these people are going through, and yet I feel great compassion.

We live in a world that is much different than it was in the past.  My generation, unlike any that have come before, find ourselves linked to each other through the various means of technology (and also a global economy).  We find it easier to learn about other cultures and even know people from these cultures.  Some of us are even lucky enough to visit the other nations and experience these different cultures first-hand.  It’s cross-culturalism… (Ok, so I made that last word up, but you should still be able to get what I’m meaning.)

In a time when we can have great pride in our nation, we can also have pride in other nations and in other people.  It can no longer be and “us and them” mentality.  We all share this planet, and deep down, most of us want to live in peace with each other as we build our future together.  We’ve spent centuries fighting each other over what we would consider the most ridiculous things in the present time.  Only in those rarest of situations has it been necessary to really take up arms against each other.  And now we are finding out that we can achieve so much more by working together as a whole (as one unit) rather than by the barrel of a gun or the shell of a bomb.

A couple of years ago, I became friends with a guy that lives in Tokyo.  Through our conversations, we both have had the experience to learn about each others culture.  Upon hearing of the earthquake last week, one of the various thoughts and concerns I had was about his well-being.  It was eight-hours later (mostly because I was at work) that I found out that he was fine.  In the ensuing days, we exchanged a few emails to which he admitted that he was surprised and overwhelmed by my caring, my sympathy for his nation and people, and for all the good thoughts and prayers that I was sending over to them.  It truly meant a lot to him… especially since I was doing all of this for someone I had never met before.  In trying to figure out the best way to help, I first asked him if there was anything that he needed personally that I could send over.  He told me that he was set and wasn’t in any need and that I should focus on one of the various agencies sending relief into his country from my own… to which that will be done.

A new world community is being born at this very time.  We are connecting ourselves more and more to one another while still remaining loyal to our own nations.  And it is when disasters such as this occur, that our common bond unites us and gives us great empathy for one another.  It reminds us of our most basic, and yet most enlightened, form of humanity.  It all comes down to the old Japanese custom of community… of one.  We are all one in the same.  It is time we start focusing on our similarities rather than our differences, and it is time that we start building toward a future that embraces our diverse cultures and allows them to thrive.  I am reminded of some words spoken by President Kennedy in 1963, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

There are no words that can adequately describe what the people of Japan are going through or what we, the people on the outside looking in, feel within ourselves as we watch the footage, see the pictures, and hear the stories (both good and bad).  But rest assured, that the people of this world community are paying attention and we are mobilizing to help, and we will not stop until the job is done and the routine of life once again resumes.  It is all about our sense of community… the society in which we live and how we shape it… and how we have come together under friendship to light a new torch of peace, love, enlightenment, and pride in our fellow man.  We are showing the best of ourselves and each other… we are showing the best of humanity.  We are of one.

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2 Responses to We Are One

  1. Marlon Reis says:

    This is fabulous, James. You really break it down beautifully, why nowadays, those of us in distant lands can still feel such great compassion and solicitude for those in crisis. You reminded me again that no matter where in the world one lives, one’s humanity always come before one’s culture. Culture is nurtured, but humanity is inborn. Before technology, as you say, it was all too easy to feel like an island, and to be afraid or suspicious of those with whom we shared no contact. Cross-culturalism is a fantastic description for the triumph of modern globalization.

    At the same time that we celebrate this newfound commonality among nations, it seems bittersweet to me that your friend in Tokyo was so surprised at your desire to help. It seems to point to the long history before now, of countries being isolationist and uncaring of others. I’m so happy you wrote this, James. It really got me thinking!

  2. Deborah Mraz says:

    Excellent James! A very eloquent narrative of exactly the way most in the global community see one another! The Kennedy quote…before I was even born I might add…is pretty amazing when you think about it! I doubt Kennedy foresaw the global picture in 1963 in quite the way we see it now! We are all dependent upon each other as nations. We all want the same things for ourselves and our children. Kennedy had some excellent insight in 1963!

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