Krishna Prema's Food for Thought 2022 # 3 - All That We Share!
It’s easy to put people in boxes. We are drawing lines and creating sides. There is us, and there are them. Those from the countryside and those from the city. The young people from generation z and those who grow up without a smartphone. Those who are new in town and those who have always been here. There are those who are well off, and those who do what they can. Those we trust and those we avoid. Those we share something with and those we seem to have nothing in common with. But when we take a closer look, we realize that we have something in common with everyone. We all share very similar human experiences!
This beautiful message was promoted by a Danish TV channel advert and has become a viral sensation with over eight million views celebrating unity in diversity. The Government of Canton Zurich organized the shooting of a similar film to promote the same values of respect and acceptance. I got a chance to participate and witnessed how people from all different walks of life realized how we share so much with each other.
How did it work? A group of Zurich residents, as diverse as possible, was first divided into cliché groups. Then these classifications were dissolved by asking about life experiences. Whenever we could answer a question with „Yes, this applies to me“ we stepped out of our boxes and walked into the center of the room. As a result, borders became more permeable, and new communities emerged. There was suddenly us - we who live in Zurich, we who feel lonely at times, those who wished they were a little slimmer, and all of us who like to dance.
Some of the questions were innocent, like „Who in this room was the class clown at school?“ or „Who speaks more than five languages?“ or „Who bathed in the Lake of Zurich this winter?“ other questions were quite personal such as „Who has ever stolen something?“, „Who has had cosmetic surgery?“ or „Who has ever fallen in love with someone of the same sex?“.
One of the most heart-touching moments for the group was when a man in his sixties and a young girl from the sports club came forward, answering “Yes, I did” to „Who has conquered cancer!“ For me, the question „Who lost one of their parents early?“ was emotionally charged. My father died at thirty-six when I was only twenty months old. The funniest moment was when I walked along with another man in the center of the room, answering the question, „Who did bungee jumping?“ (yes, believe it or not, I’ve been there, done that). It was so unexpected, here this monk and there this bodybuilder, and we had something in common - bungee jumping! The question I became most enthusiastic about answering with a yes was: „Who believes in life after death?“ Naturally, I walk with great conviction to the center of the room.
Hopefully, these kinds of projects will help people widen their perspectives, become more open to people they consider strangers, and realize that we are all human beings.
From the spiritual point of view, we need to go much deeper. The real connecting factor is not that we are all human beings, but that we are all eternal souls having a human experience. We are all children of God. That’s what unites us, the understanding that the Lord resides as the Supersoul in the heart of every living being and that we all have an eternal loving relationship with Him, the ultimate Object of Love. In Gita, Krishna describes this vision of equality on the spiritual platform as sama darsina - he who sees with an equal eye. (1)
With this understanding, we can genuinely see unity in diversity. Externally, there are people with different ethnicities, genders, races, religions, ages, and sizes, but internally, we are all eternal souls with the same origin - God! Looking at the present world situation, it‘s obvious that we would benefit so much from this understanding or as it was beautifully expressed by our ISKCON Communication Minister recently: „We earnestly pray for that day when Russians, Ukrainians, Americans, Chinese, Indians, Africans, Europeans, and all peoples will come together under the banner of affection for each other and for God. True peace, true security, and true fulfillment cannot be achieved by economic or political gains. They are found by knowing that we are all God’s children and that all people, indeed all living beings, deserve our respect, protection, and affection.“ (2)
Let‘s start with ourselves. How much do we apply this truth in our daily life? How often do we put people in boxes? How often do we judge someone else just by their external appearance? Let us remember that we have more in common than we might think.
1 - Bhagavad Gita 5.18
2 - Official ISKCON Communications Statement on Ukraine
Here you can see the film I participated in (German):
Here is the original video by the Danish TV Channel TV2 (English):