This is a quote from the movie Black Panther. It’s poignancy stands out in an era where more and more people are polarized over arbitrary reasons. Although differences are inevitable, divisions like language, color, borders, race, culture, etc., these are the type of “barriers” that are pointed out by others, unfortunately often by people in power, to separate us as a people.
I’m reminded of a song from the early 1980s by the band Depeche Mode called “People are People.” In that song, the writer says:
“So we’re different colors and we’re different creeds and different people have different needs. It’s obvious you hate me though I’ve done nothing wrong. I never even met you so what could I have done?”
The chorus goes on to say that:
“people are people so why should it be you and I should get along so awfully.”
The reason that I find this quote from the movie significant is the idea of treating people with respect and treating them as just another person is something we should all reflect on often. As I said, differences are inevitable, but as the quote from the movie suggests, we as human beings are more alike than we are different. It is the similarities that people should focus on rather than the differences that divide us. Some people look different. Some people speak different. Some people worship different. Some people live in different parts of the world. But in the end we are all on the same earth and it is in this way, among other reasons, that we are all connected.
Another quote I’m reminded of is a quote from former President of the United States John F. Kennedy in a speech he made in 1963 at the commencement ceremony of the American University. During this speech, referring to the Soviet Union, which, at the time, was considered to be the enemy of the United States, President Kennedy said:
“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
No other words so clearly define the similarities of our human race as any other. Our mortality and our very existence on this one planet Earth is what should define us.
The question we should ask ourselves is not who are the fools that build those barriers. All of us have our opinions on who is “at fault” when the fact remains that we are all at fault. Either directly by setting and pointing out those differences to keep people divided, or indirectly, by either ignoring the problem or being apathetic toward the problem and allowing those differences to continue to divide us.
I’d like to conclude with a quote from the 14th Dalai Lama. This quote comes from a speech he made at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 2016 on Compassion in Medicine. In the speech, he said:
“The differences between us of race, nationality, faith, or whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, are secondary to our basic sameness as human beings. When we stress such differences it just causes problems between us. At a fundamental level we are the same. If we were to emphasize this basic sameness among all 7 billion human beings alive today, it would reduce many of the problems between us. This is why I greet people I talk to as ‘brothers and sisters’.
The fact is that we all live on same earth. The problems of the world could all be solved much quicker if we all realized that people are people and that, in the long run, our differences are meaningless. If we all realized that we are essentially the same and decided to work together to solve those problems despite our differences, this world would be better place.