Beyond Difference: Acknowledging our shared culture

It is important to celebrate our heritage, be it cultural, ethnic or spiritual. It is also important to respect those of others. However, only acknowledging what makes us different from others, while ignoring the common source of life that connects us all, leads to divisiveness rather than harmony. Our true identity is to be found beneath the surface.

Daisaku Ikeda discusses the idea of a shared identity in his poem ‘Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land: “When neighbors distance themselves / from neighbors, continue your / uncompromising quest / for your truer roots / in the deepest regions of your lives…. Here is the home, the dwelling place / to which humankind traces / its original existence — / beyond all borders, / beyond all differences of gender and race. / Here is a world offering true proof of our humanity”

The Chinese character for “person” (ren) shows two people leaning on each other. Some consider it to be one of the most important words in Chinese thought. The character for the quality of “humanity” (ren) is made of the characters for “person” and “the number two,” meaning two people who face each other, two people communicating, two people who love each other. In other words, there is no such thing as an isolated individual.

Each of us is linked together into a single living entity, and those links are not limited to the human world. They extend to the natural world and the cosmos, and all existence as one organic whole.

The solution to a problem is found within the problem. Transforming issues of human rights and racism entails our having trust in the transformative power of life. For life is what we all share in common. When we develop and act upon this trust, the most difficult challenge can become an opportunity to transform issues of division into creative powers harmony and peace.

Share this post

2 Responses

  1. I am here! I know I’m here because I communicate with others. I just shared with others few minutes ago. The word share, or sharing has begun to hunt me. The world has failed to share and that’s the  reason we are at this state. We’re poor because we’re not sharing. We fight one another because we’re not sharing.I realize if we share, we prosper more. If share, peace would reign.I propose we share more. If you agree–say Amen.

  2. Dr. Dapo, 

    Thanks for your comments. I wholeheartedly agree and Amen! I was wondering what has me up so early on a workday (it’s 3am). To read your comment and share my appreciation.
    Best to you and your work with youth in Portland.
    With appreciation,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *