“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” — Abraham Lincoln
This strikes specific for me after I’ve been trying to get deeper into Seneca’s writing and philosophies. He speaks of trying to think of humans as your brothers and sisters. I know when I flow through the world this way, I enjoy life much more. I am more forgiving and respectful than usual. This brings me to a place of contemplation for human bonds and relationships I think is important. While some people enjoy being controversial and only find confrontation interesting, and I have my share, it is far from what matters in life. Often times confrontation of humans seem more of a product of insecurity, boredom, and confusion than it is anything else. Before we engage in any deep confrontations I think it is necessary to attempt to engage people on any level you can to acknowledge their existence. This is the least you can do for a human and mostly what people want deep down. We all want to know that others know we exist, at least usually that’s the case.
There will always be people you give a chance to, that you just don’t like. That’s fine, just be careful how extremely you react to that. No one will be 100% awesome all the time, so we must always consider the natural flow of humans while also considering a simple difference you do not understand about them as more than just a flaw. You can try and I only say this to point out the reality of extreme optimism and the naive nature of some humans that have yet to experience extreme devious nature that can exist. Go into each new encounter with fairness and while giving your fellow human a chance regardless. Extreme opinions that contrast yours may emerge and you just may find you hate another human for a good deal of their beliefs or simply hate their ideals. Things get complex at this point because what emerges is more questions of what to do when you are faced with a disdain of a person’s belief structure.
Humans who face severe tragedy sometimes are faced with moments of reflection and fairness from the same people who may have seemingly been responsible for the tragedy. For example- a captive soldier may face another enemy soldier in captivity in a very human moment. The enemy may be giving him food or helping the captive out in some way showing real compassion for this person in an existential gesture of kindness, to show the other person he understands that they are alike and even though these circumstances are extremely unpleasant. The enemy knows he may not be able to act this way in front of his superiors, but still risks this sympathetic kindness when he can to comfort this human because he knows it’s the right thing to do.
I could get into relative contextual scenarios to explain all the potentials here, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’d like to keep this example as basic as possible and I think in a lot of cases if we can simplify our relation of our humanity through the understanding of our mutual bonds, especially when we realize the suffering that is existing.
This is a quote from Jordan Peterson’s facebook page. I think it was him who said this, it was a QOTD, and it resonates deeply for me. I think it represents one of the most simple ways we can all connect through the recognition of life’s tragedy or tragedies, more specifically death. Life is literally all we have so if in realizing that we are all vulnerable it should truly be the bond we share and connect with.
“Humans are vulnerable and that’s tragic, but if tragedy is the price we pay for existence then so be it if existence is justifiable.”
As we realize how connected we are, especially through our emergence into life, that is where we will find our most common bonds. Babies don’t know what country they’re from, skin color they are, or what religion/beliefs they even hold. They are mostly willing to co-exist as they are with the people they are raised with, so long as they’re healthy and treated decent. Decency can be relative, but here I think I can say so without going to deep.
The main point is as we approach strangers and people we know as long as they have not repeatedly done wrong by us it is perfectly healthy to treat them kindly. This does not mean you have to make a friend of all or even many of the people. It only means as we learn to truly humanize each other by simply attempting to have an understanding of what someone’s life must be like and considering their potential.
This may seem overly optimistic for some and I encourage people to be skeptical, but I invite people to keep trying. I feel in society there are faded lines between comedy and cynicism. To have an expectation that people will be frustrated and constantly make mistakes will give us all a more virtuous outlook on each other and reality. This does not mean to expect people to just be miserably horrid creatures in any way, more as it is a call to accept the lack of perfection. It does not mean we don’t encourage the striving towards perfection whatever someone perceives that as, just a simple forgiveness that it will likely never exist.
Life runs smoother when I personally live this way no matter how rough or easy my life may be at the moment. I am very far from my perception of perfect and I know it’s up to me to keep trying as hard as it may seem at certain points. One thing I’ve adopted lately is a persistent drive for fairness. If I can constantly attempt to be fair, and I mean honestly fair, then it is far more productive than just trying to always get my points across wherever it may be I am trying to do so. I find myself more than ever checking myself to make sure I’m being honest because I find the more aware I’ve become that it can be easy to rationalize my own bias. It’s critically important that we recognize this in ourselves as it will only lead to more productive interactions over time.
Existence is justifiable in my opinion and I have always thought so. Many know me as a realist and mistake my critical nature of life as some deep pessimism. Pessimisms are fine and well, but for the root of your life to be pessimism will not lead you anywhere truly great. What I mean is that by building yourself to have a way of life that justifies existence in itself, then it becomes much easier. I believe we all see great tragedies and I don’t believe it needs to be averaged or quantified. Some of us see more and some see less, some worse, some long, and the list goes on. As we learn to relate through the tragedy that is where comedy exists. The ultimate tragedy in death becomes our ultimate bond and with that we can build on the ultimate comedy.
Be kind to one another. Be really kind. I truly believe that one of the best gifts you can give people is laughter and you should try. The least you can try for from there is a smile. It’s ok if you cannot do either, don’t let this ever upset you. Your interpretation does not always entirely matter and as we learn to let go of those expectations of others we truly find relief in ourselves. As polarizing as all of our different traits seems to be at times it is extremely important that we never forget what makes us connected. When you do, you will be in for a long ride and it will not be very fun. Me, I’m just trying to have some fun over here, where and when I can while staring into the rabbit hole of existence.
I will end this off with someone who wrote far better than I may ever. Michael Larson aka Eyedea.
“And I’m no different; I live in conflict and contradiction