I recently started noticing that we seem to show genuine interest when we recognize the commonalities we have with other humans and all living things. The joy and surprise in peoples’ smiles and eyes when they focus on shared elements stand out, especially in our Western culture which often emphasizes our differences. We're constantly bombarded with reminders of "us versus them" in so many aspects of our lives.
I feel fortunate to share the responsibility with my colleague Sarah Patterson of engaging with participants joining the Common Earth Insights course. For every email expressing interest in the course, we respond with an invitation to have a conversation. Unlike traditional educational interviews, our goal is to understand if the participant feels the course aligns with their interests, rather than us evaluating and approving or rejecting their participation.
Meeting people from such diverse backgrounds and walks of life, spanning different ages, religions, professions, sexual orientations, and identities, brings me immense joy and ignites my curiosity. Co-creating the Common Earth community with such diversity mimics that in nature, where a forest or ocean thrives on diversity, and without it, they become unhealthy.
During these conversations with potential participants, I'm always fascinated by their reactions when we shift the discussion to our shared experiences. We are all part of systems, create our experiences from our thoughts, and live within economic structures. We love and suffer, share concerns for our environment, and future generations; a common hope for a better future. As living beings on this beautiful planet, we all trace our origins back to the stars and share fundamental elements like carbon, water, and hydrogen, just like plants, mammals and birds.
December is a month many of us share as the one that holds many different types of celebrations. Whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yaldā, St. Nicholas Day, Bodhi Day, or celebrations of the winter solstice, the common thread in all of them is the gathering of families, friends, and communities. These celebrations highlight our common willingness to include and be kind to those who share the holiday with us, uniting us more than the specific holidays themselves.
What makes December special is the longstanding idea, constructed over centuries, that this is a time for gathering, sharing, and celebrating. If we can create such special moments, there's no reason we can't carry this spirit throughout the year. Celebrations serve as positive feedback loops, reinforcing joy and fostering a sense of community.
We can extend this spirit to nature, celebrating all its beings, and even to those we may not connect with directly. Whether through prayers, meditations, or contemplation of nature, we can adopt an inclusive mindset, considering all beings.
At Common Earth, we'll continue celebrating our shared experiences as we collaboratively build the compassionate society we envision for the future of all beings on the planet. May this holiday season be a time to remember and celebrate our connections and commonalities.
Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season.