Some only want some shelter, some want a mansion in the sky.”
Moving away from home, especially to a foreign country, comes with many challenges. Just a few weeks ago, I left behind my family, friends, and the familiarity of my hometown in Australia to travel to Florida and intern with TWLOHA. Many things are different here; my room, housemates, and even the Floridian humidity will all take some getting used to. Yet, I have seen there are some things that haven’t changed and will not alter, no matter where I am or who I am with.
“And when all the worlds collide, all they know is to divide, and it’s easy if they’re faceless to hate the other side.”
Regardless of where I have traveled, I have found that, in spite of all our differences, humans are basically the same. This is not to say we aren’t unique or don’t have our own mark to leave on the world, but we do all have the need to be known, to be loved, and to be understood.
Often, as this song says, we have a tendency to focus on our differences and use them to divide us from one another. Siblings, friends, communities—our differences are often what break us apart. Our varying beliefs, cultures, backgrounds, and even the ways in which we speak can determine how we perceive others and the manner in which we treat them.
Having our thoughts, behaviors, and values challenged is never easy, but if we are to create a healthy community that enables all people to feel welcome, we must learn to set aside our differences. By both focusing on our commonality and welcoming the individuality in each of us, we are able to learn more about ourselves and each other. We are personally enriched for meeting someone who is “different.”
“Dear heart, dear life, dear soldier, dear martyr, where did we go wrong? Can we all just get along?”
As simple as this song is, the notion of “getting along” often seems far beyond our human nature. We want to be comfortable and to have our values validated. Often, we seek this validation by being ignorant of the values in other people’s thoughts and lives. But I am learning that we have only to gain by accepting the differences in others. In this way, we are able to bridge gaps that have been present for generations and show others that, irrespective of who they are and where they come from, we are all the same on some level.
We all need to be loved, and this is the fundamental reason we need to get along.
“Maybe if we’d work together, we’d already have a heaven here on earth.”
—Jessica, TWLOHA Fall 2013 Intern