Beyond Difference – Acknowledging What We Share In Common

It is important to celebrate our heritage, be it cultural, ethnic or spiritual. It is also important to respect those of others. However, only acknowledging what makes us different from others, while ignoring the common source of life that connects us all, leads to divisiveness rather than harmony. Our true identity is to be found beneath the surface.

Daisaku Ikeda discusses the idea of a shared identity in his poem ‘Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land: “When neighbors distance themselves / from neighbors, continue your / uncompromising quest / for your truer roots / in the deepest regions of your lives… Here is the home, the dwelling place / to which humankind traces / its original existence — / beyond all borders, / beyond all differences of gender and race. / Here is a world offering true proof of our humanity”

The Chinese character for “person” (ren) shows two people leaning on each other. Some consider it to be one of the most important words in Chinese thought. The character for the quality of “humanity” (ren) is made of the characters for “person” and “the number two,” meaning two people who face each other, two people communicating, two people who love each other. In other words, there is no such thing as an isolated individual.

Each of us is linked together into a single living entity, and those links are not limited to the human world. They extend to the natural world and the cosmos, and all existence as one organic whole.

The solution to a problem is found within the problem. Transforming issues of human rights and racism entails our having trust in the transformative power of life. For life is what we all share in common. When we develop and act upon this trust, the most difficult challenge can become an opportunity to transform issues of division into creative powers harmony and peace.