No matter the privilege or lack of it, no matter the time or the place, we all share the “human condition.” This condition includes being born, having bodily functions, growing, having emotions and capacity for suffering, experiencing both survival instincts and dependence, and, at the end of it all, dying. In short we all bleed red and breathe oxygen and need food and water.
Not in equal parts we also share a capacity for learning, loving and being loved, and finding a purpose and passion. Within this basic condition, being human involves a myriad of differences and complexities. While these differences may make being humans together interesting, they are also where we can get into trouble in getting along together.
Recently, as I was finishing reading David McCullough’s The Pioneers, it occurred to me that some of the same issues we are struggling with today were the same issues the early pioneers, immigrants, and Native Americans of the Northwest Territory were struggling with over two hundred years ago—how to tolerate differences and not leverage them for power.
Are we now in that area of “an idea whose time has come”? Are we as a nation finally ready to embrace the fact that we all share the human condition. Period. Are we ready to change the conventions we are familiar with so that a better way of being equal can be designed? While it may be hard to watch the pent up frustration and anger of those who have been marginalize finally explode into view, we may remind ourselves that that is what happens when emotions are pent up and swept under the rug. It is why humans on an individual level sometimes “explode” all at once over a buried frustration or wound.
Now is the time to listen and reason together how we can fix what is wrong and save what is right. It is a time to entertain cherishing differences instead of just trying to tolerate them. It is a good time to ponder in our own spheres of influence our connection to all who share the human condition and embrace it.