It’s a simple question on paper – none of the words are too complicated, the concept isn’t nebulous or overly relative. In fact, it’s a rather direct question. When we witness events, whether through the news, first hand, or even social media, we make decisions on what resonates with us. Generally, what strikes a nerve – and what makes us stop – is content that is either extremely relatable to our personality, or strikingly contrary to our deepest beliefs.
And then there’s the follow up question… can we change what we find “relatable”? If we presume the assumption that what is relatable follows our beliefs, than the more philosophical question would be – can we change our convictions?
On Tuesday, March 22 a terrible, terrible hate induced act blindsided Brussels. What amazes me the most during such a struggle is the unity demonstrated around the world – nations from across the land showing their support, while condemning the dark souls that caused such a tragedy. Hashtags flooded my newsfeed – #WeAreBrussels #StandWithBrussels – people even changed their pictures to match that of the Brussel flag. But as I scrolled a bit further, a pointed question rose to the surface. What about Turkey? What about Lebanon? Pakistan? What about every other person and country that suffers from unexplainable persecution and isn’t afforded the benefit of a hashtag or a social movement?
How do we choose who we relate to? The conversation doesn’t require a debate on importance or justification. Tragedy is tragedy and innocent lives were always innocent. And if you asked me honestly, I think most people would agree. But then our previous presumption is triumphed by an even bigger dilemma – if our convictions stand in the right place, how come we don’t always see their shadow?
How do we choose who we relate to? The real question should be, how do we choose who we’re related to?
That’s where I think we’ve struggled. We’ve adapted to groups…I’m American, I’m a New Yorker, I’m a Long Islander. At a certain point, you can’t fold the piece of paper any further. We’ve cut ourselves so thin that we have identity markers that can divide us from our own neighbors. So today and always, we can be Brussels. But remember we are much more than that. We are humanity, and at that core belief stands one message – we are all related to each other. Where we choose to find our reflection, where we choose to connect our hearts and compassion, is all based on these classifications. So broaden them. Maybe highlight and delete them (and when the “are you sure” button comes up, go ahead and click yes on that too). The barriers will fall, the light will shine through, and you’ll see the one promise that was always true.
We are human ∴ #WeAreHumanity