They’re human too

In Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante Gunaratana says: “Practically speaking, if all of your enemies were well, happy, and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they were free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies.” Now, let me ask you a question. What do your “enemies” have in common? What property binds Mother Teresa, Hitler, Jesus Christ, Brutus, Genghis Khan, Stalin, Winston Churchill, a nurse, a shop assistant, a Chief Technical Officer, a homeless person, a trustafarian, a murderer, a white supremacist, a charity worker and a father of three children together? Answer: they are all human.

It’s become fashionable to polarise, to define ourselves via our chosen opposition. Democrats pit themselves against Republicans. Those who want national borders closed take the field against those advocating for global citizenship. The big tech corporations are either adding value to society or sucking it out. Those who want to dive into the future are at arms with those who want to preserve the past. Those who accumulate wealth are at the throats of those who want to see it distributed. Everywhere I look I see divisive conflict, us-versus-them rhetoric, people being forced to take a side and fight. I’m tired of it. Both sides of these divides are, fundamentally, human, no matter how much their thoughts, words and deeds diverge from each other. 

When I remind myself of this, I find that my negative energy dissolves. When I think of those I “oppose” and say to myself, “They’re human too”, I feel less vitriol and more patience, less anger and more empathy. And at the same time, I wonder about the potential impact of such a practice if it were adopted the world over. What would change?