I watched the movie Arrival this afternoon which is about aliens who arrive on Earth and how the linguistic professor, Louise Banks, decodes their language to understand what they’re trying to communicate. I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t watched it yet, but what struck me about the movie was that the humans and aliens are able to communicate despite being two completely different species. It shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to me because we communicate with other creatures all the time – dogs, horses, cows.
When you consider the possibility that there are extraterrestrials, you suddenly remember how similar every human is. When you think about people from outside your country, you see recognize how similar your own countrymen are. So, you see, similarities are defined by what you consider yourself a part of. If you are a woman, you think men are different. If you have a certain interest (such as a certain language or sport, for example), those that don’t share that interest become external people and hence, ‘different’.
Why we are more similar than different
Sometimes, find myself feeling like a fish out of water when I interact with people from other countries and it takes me a while to start feeling comfortable around them. That’s understandable, of course. I come from a different culture, my accent is different, and my mannerisms are definitely different.
Am I really that different, though? The movie got me thinking about how similar we all are and what connects us as a human race.
All of us feel emotions. All of us feel joy, sorrow, excitement, fear, satisfaction, and everything in between. Irrespective of where we are, what language we speak, our social status, or our skill colour.
We share this world…this blue-green planet. We share the land, the ocean, the sky. We are here in this time and space, in this solar system, in this universe. We are living a shared experience.
We are built the same way; our body functions in the same way. We all eat, sleep, breathe, procreate. All around us, we see replicas of ourselves. There are more similarities to our bodies than differences.
If we all interacted with everyone else like we are more similar than different, how would we behave?
I think we’d all feel super comfortable around each other, irrespective of where we’re from. When we look into another’s eyes, we’d recognize a reflection of ourselves. We’d feel more connected with everyone else on the planet. We’d be more compassionate, more understanding, and more kind towards each other.
We’d be slow to judge and eager to accept.
We’d treat each other with respect, honour, and camaraderie.
We wouldn’t feel the need to ‘break the ice’ when we meet new people because there wouldn’t be any ‘ice to break’.
We would stand side by side with solidarity when times get difficult.
We would take more responsibility for the shared resources we have.
We’d treat this planet as the home we need to protect and cherish.
We wouldn’t feel as much need to impress others and would rejoice at everyone’s wins as if it were our own.
We wouldn’t be indifferent to the plight of those that are less fortunate than us.
We’d live a life of trust, benevolence and cooperation.
It would be a beautiful world indeed.
“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”– Thomas Paine