Monday, October 19, 2009

What's the Difference, Really?

A close look at the differences between one person and another is apt to show that we have much more in common than we might have thought. I find it to be so again and again in life, and for a multitude of peoples and beliefs. Black and white, man and woman, rich and poor, old and young.

And also for the Arab and the American. What we do not know could fill a book with a thousand blank pages, while what we learn through individual acquaintance, within the dispassionate milieu of day to day life, begins to fill in the blanks with an ink that cannot come from conflict but only from mutual experience, a shared quality of perception that dwells naturally in the soul.

Each of us alike knows the world, knows what it means to live, and so we are known to one another on the level of essence alone, that medium by which we have been made to exist--skin, breath, mind, heart, veins and toes and fingers and souls.

I talk to Hassan about Islam, and find that we are talking about Christianity as well, and Judaism; of Catholics and Shiites, the Sunni and the Protestant; of schisms and wars; of those who are religious, and those who just believe. We speak of Abraham and Lot, of Isaac and Ishmael, of Jacob and Esau and Noah and Jesus, and find that we are not talking about an isolated tradition but a comprehensive history--that which includes all, from Adam and Eve to me and Hassan.

We are not the products of division, but the children of the pristine unity by which life itself has always depended, no matter how far flung and confused by time. Here we are, a world apart, and yet quite the same after all.

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