Sometimes prophetic inspiration comes from unlikely places. This morning mine came from the lungs of a lovely 17-year-old woman who sang:
“Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team.” (Lorde, 2014)
She reminded me in no uncertain terms that we should really stop living in those ruins of the palaces that are within our dreams. These palaces that represent our ideal lives and worlds are only attainable if we remember that we are actually on the same team.
Other saints, sages and senators have shared the same message. We can all chant Bob Marley’s “One love, one heart … Let’s get together and feel all right” and sing Imagine, claiming to belong to that dream cast who hopes “someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.” These are not new ideas, neither are they specific to one culture, religion or generation. Here a few more beautiful words, which while individually unique, revealing and undeniably inspiring – each point toward the same essential thesis.
“Once, we were fine. We were all one.
Then, we de-fined ourselves: this person is white, this one is black, this one is English, this one is Russian and this one is Chinese.
Now, it’s time to re-fine ourselves, and once again see that we are all one. So we were fine, we de-fined, now we must re-fine.” – Swami Satchidananda
“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.” – British author T.H. White
“… appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.” – Albert Einstein, on his deathbed
“Unity of hearts is all that is necessary. If this cannot be had, all else is futile; if this is accomplished, nothing else is necessary.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The Minimal Group Paradigm and subsequent studies on prejudice and discrimination, made famous by British Psychologist Henri Tajfel, indicate that most of our prejudices really stem from our innate desire for belonging. This belonging was tested to see what was the minimum basis for which a person creates a group identity—and you would be quite surprised at how minimal they really are. We really will manufacture social identity out of the very smallest thing—”wow, you have a mole too!”
(Here is a link to an interview with Tajfel about the study).
We all want to fit in, to some group, some team—so we seek out some commonality that we think we share with other members, and we often unconsciously find our specific role within that group. You then create a them, mainly to secure your place as one of us. If there is opposition, it helps us to close ranks and bond more deeply. In reality, there is no real difference between us and them… we are the same.
We are all just trying to find our place. It is at least a part of the reason we seek out our soul-mates, create families, adore our friends, bleed for our football side. Whether our blood runs blue or red we can find fraternity in our passion. This is how it should be.
While it is perfectly fine to support a particular passion and support it to the death, what we should really be doing it trying to belong to the largest team we can possibly find.
Instead of arguing that we are better because we think groovy soca is better than chutney soca or reggae is superior to soca or both are rubbish and EDM is betterist… but only trance or only jungle will really do—stop it. Be a part of team Music is the Essence of Life and just dance! Maybe together… in a circle… holding hands (is that enough hippie for you? OK, I’ll stop, but you get my point).
We need to consciously choose to belong to the biggest team. Ultimately, we are not team North or South, Trinidad or Tobago, Caribbean versus the rest of the world. We are team Human. Team Beings that share this planet. Team Earth, Team Milky Way, Team Universe—yeah, OK, I know I am doing it again. I’ll chill out on the Team Glowing Hippie Expansiveness.
However, I do think we need to remember who we are. We all need the same things. Your team and mine might have more similarities than you think, and it is also likely that in our differences, you may have some of the things I need to survive and vice versa!
Support each other. We’re on each others team.