Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Difference of Being the Same

Just a quick follow-up to my last blog entry:

Kevin and I did end up seeing "District 9" this last weekend, and I can safely say that I was not at all disappointed. I was quite blown away, in fact. This movie, while being very creative and entertaining, was incredibly poignant and has so much to say to us -- a world of misguided people, suffering from a lack of self-awareness. There were so many moments that touched me in this movie, many moments that made me shake with rage, tremble with great disturbance, ache with sadness, and some that made me weep with hope.

There is one moment in particular that stood out for me as the true message. (If you have not seen this movie yet and do not want anything spoiled please skip the section in orange.) When the main character, Wikus, has begun his transformation into the alien species (a species that he abhores and believes to be inferior), he finds himself becoming that which he hates. Forced to be a fugitive and look to the alien species for help, he befriends Christopher, one of the more peaceful aliens. Christopher and Wikus develop a plan to both return Christopher and his son to the mother ship so that they can return to their home planet, as well as get Wikus aboard so that Christopher can reverse his transformation. While the two of them discuss how to best accomplish this plan Christopher's son stands next to Wikus, looking at his left arm, which has fully transformed. The son lifts his own arm, parallel to the arm of Wikus and says, "We are the same."

That moment took my breath away for a split second. No matter that this is just a movie; no matter that this was said by an alien, or that the objects that unified them were things that we would see as gross or disgusting in appearance. None of this matters because it was a moment of pure honesty. It showed the power of innocence and open-mindedness. Leave it to a child to see through the outward appearance. They so often see deep within us, to the people we are at the core . . . our hearts, our spirits, our souls. They have not all been corrupted yet with the destructiveness of prejudice. They are more likely to see past the differences and find the ways in which we are the same -- connected.

This is so beautiful to me! If only we all tried harder to define ourselves and others with the things that unite us, rather than the things that divide us. True compassion is loving and understanding in the face of what makes us different. It's easy to have love for those that are just like us, but how difficult it can be to have the same love for the people that we don't understand, the people that we don't agree with, and the people that we don't even like.

I have the most difficult time with this in regards to people that I feel are being judgmental, self-righteous, or intolerant to others. I sometimes don't have the compassion for them that I should. I often focus on those differences. What those people are doing may not be right, but it is also not right that I should abstain from giving them compassion as well. Perhaps if I focus on common ground, then maybe they will too. Maybe it will inspire them to not become engulfed in our differences.

I was reminded today, when I read the latest blog entry of my sister-in-law's sister, of the beauty of the variations that make us all truly unique. Our niece was born with Treacher-Collins Syndrome, which affects her outward appearance. She looks different than "normal" people and is constantly reminded of the ways in which she is different. Though anyone with a disability or that deals with malformities of their appearance most assuredly has a harder life than the rest of us, there is something that I find to be incredibly beautiful about their differences. They are somehow freer of the mold-like restrictions and demands of our society, because they have to be. They have no choice in the matter. But because of that they are probably more of their genuine selves than any of the rest of us. And they have a strong awareness of that which makes us all human.

I believe that we should all not just ignore the differences, but instead embrace them in one another. We don't have to be the same to get along. Nor do we have to only recognize the common denominators in order to be "okay" with each other. None of us were created to be exacly the same. We are all meant to be an individual. That is the beauty of this world -- that we have the ability to maintain our differences, while loving, respecting, and accepting each other. We have the ability to peacefully, and joyfully coexist.

Of course, this is easier said than done, like most everything else in this world that brings about positivity. But I still hold to the ideal that it can and should be fought for. I know that I don't always succeed at this myself, but I am trying. I don't want the world to grow more and more polarized, settling all too easily into extremes. This is not productive nor healthy. I want there to be openness and tolerance, no matter the cause, no matter the person, no matter our own paradigms. I want each of us to be loved, not in spite of our differences, but instead loved, in part, because of them. I think then, we will have truly accomplished something great.

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