I’ve traveled the world for almost 2 years now, spent extended time (1+ month) in 6-7 countries, and “lived” in at least 3 countries (2 if you count living as a minimum of one year).
This blessing has provided me the opportunity to meet people of vastly different backgrounds.
I’ve met people from all 6 human continents, from countless countries, countless races, ethnic backgrounds, etc.
One thing that always stands out to me is this: we are all just humans, fundamentally.
Sure our brains may process information differently. We may speak different languages. We may come from cultures so vastly different we will never be able to fully comprehend the other’s life and upbringing.
But at a deep, fundamental level- we are all just humans. We have feelings, goals, ambitions, hopes, and a wide array of emotions.
Some of those feelings are tribal, such as the “us vs. them” mentality you see in various countries. Other feelings are productive, such as compassion & empathy.
When I see someone, even if they look different than me or speak a language I don’t understand, I just see a human.
A Russian does not look Russian, and an African does not look African. I just see a light that is a human being.
It’s really strange to think that 101 years ago the first great world war ended, and little did the world know that another greater one was right around the corner.
When I see a German I don’t fear for my life or my territory. I don’t see a Russian and think that they might wish to take my secrets. I see just people living their lives.
Most people are just good people. Yeah there’s a shitty German or two but there’s a shitty American or two also.
War just makes no sense- especially now, now that our economies are so dependent on each other.
I think 99% of people, even if slightly misguided at times, just want the best for themselves and everyone. Most people aren’t naturally tribal and aggressive.
In Bali I would often hang out in groups so diverse- people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures. We could have an American, Canadian, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, and more all in one group. And we just had fun, as if the strange past of our nations clashing did not exist.
I think that war is started by a small group of heavily misguided people that somehow inspire fear & hatred in the masses. It is the politicians that send their sons to war.
When America drafted countless young boys to the pointless Vietnam War, did the Senators and House of Representatives and Judges and President go to join them? No. They sat in their comfy little chairs and read war statistics.
It’s SO easy to hate another group of people when you don’t actually know them. When you create misconceptions and a view of them but you’ve never met them, it’s easy to hate.
The politicians and generals sitting in their comfy chairs do not see that the people getting killed are normal humans just like us. When an American life is lost, it sucks. But what they didn’t see is that a German dying in WWII or a Russian or Vietcong was not a win but equally tragic.
A family back in their respective homeland will mourn the loss. A partner will grieve the loss of their lover. The economy will lose what could’ve been a productive member of society.
Travel and world connection is so beautiful because it allows all of humanity to stop putting these ridiculous stereotypes of other groups of people in their mind.
The Russians are not evil. Their language may sound harsh to an English speaker (and all the ridiculous propaganda of us vs. them) but they love, celebrate, party, desire wealth, and prosperity just like the Americans.
They really are no different. They are just humans. Germans are just humans. Africans are.
Everyone everywhere is just human- and I’m grateful that we live in a world so connected than before because it’s becoming near-impossible to hate another group of people because the world is becoming so integrated.
The compounding effect of war is why we must do all that we can to avoid another war of any kind, anywhere. If I lose my brother to enemy gunfire, it would only be natural to hate them- and then I may hurt one of them, but then their brothers will hate me… and thus the cycle continues.
If we remain a globally connected planet, then this hatred will be hard to hold onto. Our societies will be so interconnected that we won’t be able to hate each other.
This doesn’t mean we’ll lose our culture or values as nations. It just means that we will have enough respect, understanding, and love to prevent ridiculous tribal mentality from ever arising again.
In many places in the world being a foreigner or having foreigners is still not common. We don’t get enough exposure to other cultures & people, so it’s too easy to say “we are this and they are that.” That’s not how it really is- we’re all just human.
I have no tolerance now for people that initiate such ridiculous mentality. When people say that “Russians are this” or “Americans are that” or whatever, it just reveals a deep insecurity in the individual. They have no understanding or connection with anyone outside their own tribe.
When I meet people, I don’t see a label of “American” or “Russian” or “German” or “Spanish” or any other of the great nations. We are all just humans. Everyone looks human, acts human, and is human.
Last month in Bali I got sick for about a week, so I purchased a childhood favorite game to pass the time- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
While I enjoyed playing it, a part of me felt sickened. I realized that games such as this continued this “America vs. Russia” mentality. It made “us” the good guys and “them” the bad guys.
The game was fun, but sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder about the video game character’s lives. I empathized with “the enemy” because even though they were shooting at us, they had a family back home, and also thought they were on the right side.
In fact, the game was a completely different experience than when I played it growing up- when I grew up I enjoyed the action, shooting, and adventure.
But this time I paid attention to the story, and the story made the game even more painful.
Roughly speaking (and I could be wrong), the Americans were trying to infiltrate a terrorist organization to get rid of their leader, but then the terrorist pulled a trick on the Americans which led the Russians to think that America had attacked them, when really it was the terrorists that attacked Russia.
Naturally Russia attacked USA, and thus began the war. Even though the Russians were still slightly the “bad guys,” it was surprising how hard the developers tried to make a story that made sense in a way.
I wrote this last part of the video game just to say that as fun as they can be, a game such as this also feels wrong in a way because it still makes Americans right and Russians wrong. It humanizes one group of people while isolating another group, and making the other group appear immoral and inhuman.
That’s not the truth. We are all just humans, and the only enemy is the darkness that pulls us back into the tribal mentality of “us vs them.”
The truth that none of us realized was that we were all playing the game of life on the same team all along, but the team had a fight and broke into sub-teams that competed against each other.
The real problems that our one team of humanity had to face such as the environment, creating abundance, prosperity, and happiness fade to the background when we can’t even work as a team.
That’s the big joke of it all: we are all just humans playing on the same team, but we got so trapped in our illusion of “us vs them” that we forgot there were greater things to battle- together.
We are all just humans, and nothing else. Let’s treat everyone like that.