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There is no “winner” of the human race

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“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

~ Maya Angelou

When you first meet someone, what do you notice? Maybe you take in the color of their skin and hair, how they sound, the clothes they wear, whether they appear differently abled than you. Perhaps as you begin speaking, you listen for hints as to where they are from, where they lean politically, who they love. Within the first few minutes, or even seconds, of meeting someone new, your brain has consciously and unconsciously profiled and categorized them. We instinctively look for similarities and differences to decide how we will interact with this person. 

This happens in the animal kingdom, as well. Dogs sniff, bark, growl, bare teeth, tuck tails, fight, or roll on their back to determine the alpha. Chickens stick out their chests, puff up their feathers, and stretch their necks to make themselves bigger. If one chicken has different markings, others will peck at it, often resulting in serious injury or death. Pecking order is a real thing in the chicken world. These animal behaviors are intended to establish a hierarchy –  who eats first? Who gets the better food? Who gets the best mate?

Our natural human instinct to size up others and put them into mental buckets is a remnant from our distant ancestors. There is no place in our modern civilization for alphas or pecking orders. Instead of trying to fit each unique individual into a diluted category, recognize them as a fellow human. Grant that you are both entering the situation with your own unique histories and experiences – neither more nor less valuable than the other; both unique and worth celebrating.

Seeing others as humans first makes it easier to acknowledge that we all need the same things – to feel connected, respected, and safe. We all have an unlimited capacity for love and compassion. What would it look like to apply that love and compassion to all fellow humans rather than just those in the right bucket? What would the impact be in your workplace? Your Neighborhood? The world?

This week’s inquiry…

When is the next time you can apply more compassion?

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