War No More: Peace Will Not Be Possible Until We Understand the Commonality of Our Pains

We have been at it for centuries yet the more we fight for peace, the further we move away from it. Pains begetting pains, tears demanding retribution, we are slowly edging towards the abyss of dissolution with each successive generation. What was once unthinkable is very much within the realm of possibility; we are one miscalculation or misunderstanding away from a global liquidation wrought by intercontinental missiles.

We have every reason to be upset and rage against the machine, injustice is ubiquitous evidenced by the vast majority of people around the world being indentured for the sake of capital accumulation by a few. The veneer of freedom is being stripped away daily and being replaced by unending economic anxieties.  Gone are the days of upward mobility, the new normal is a race to the bottom of insolvency as the poor are being ground into dust, the working class is being bracketed by poverty and the middle class is disappearing before our eyes.

Yet despite the inequalities that are metastasizing globally, we do a great disservice to ourselves when we respond to maltreatment with malice. The few who rule through a mix of brute force and emotional manipulation win each time when we give our hands to our passions and disavow compassion in the process. The undeniable truth is that human suffering is universal, when we overlook this fact and focus on only the pains we feel and dismiss others who are struggling too, we fuel the very “us vs them” paradigm that is the engine of planetary persecution.

A few days ago, Obang Metho—a human rights advocate from Ethiopia—noted that if we are to attain justice in the world, we must undergo a fundamental transformation of our minds. “We live in a paradigm where we say ‘I exist for me’”, Obang observed, “the better way is to understand that ‘I exist because of you’.” What he was getting at is the foundational conflict that is the root cause of human suffering. Our sense of community has been replaced by rank individualism yet the more we attain on our own, the emptier we feel alone.

Humanity cannot be spelled without U and I, indeed I am you and you are me. Though our journeys might be different and our belief systems might diverge, at the core we share the same struggles to overcome the traumas of our past and the same hopes of making something of our lives. Sadly, we are conditioned to ignore the commonality of our humanity and instead gaze at our differences. We ghettoize ourselves through politics and allow demagogues to leverage the legitimate grievances of marginalized communities to further the status quo and perpetuate discrimination.

The only way we can advance the cause of peace and justice is not by turning on others who are hurting but by joining hands with people who don’t share our identities or ideologies. We have tried the opposite for decades only to sink further into the morass of strife and scarcity. We must say no more to tribalism and realize that isms are nothing more than caste systems meant to ghettoize humanity by making us accept labels above our connected whole.

I know from first-hand experience the poison of seeking exclusive justice. There was a time when I used to bash Republican voters and lay the ills of the world at the feet of white people. It took two and a half years of homelessness and seeing a seven-year-old white girl in a shelter in Greenville, South Carolina for me to relinquish tribalism and value our common humanity. This I know to be true after a most heartrending dance with adversity, the people who we are convinced to bash are struggling too.

As right as we think we are and as miffed as we become over the ways we feel we are being wronged, the “other side” feels just as aggrieved. Our egos misled us into thinking that only “our people” are being transgressed against but in reality—unless you belong in the global oligarchy class—we are all being pillaged by a system that takes from most and enriches a select few. The root cause of most social ills is economic inequalities, but we are conned into thinking that others who are being mauled by unjust policies are our foes.

If humanity is to make a leap forward toward civility and peaceful co-existence, we must do so through empathy. We must understand our connectedness and value our oneness for the blood that courses in all our veins trace back to a singularity. Faith and science affirm that life began at one, whether we understand this source to be a Big God or a Big Bang is immaterial, the reality is that billions of people around the world are related—humanity is one big family.

I know it might seem odd for someone like me, who is seeking political office, to speak of unity and togetherness. After all, politics is the art of dividing people in order to gain power. But I guess that is what makes my campaign different, I have zero interest in becoming a politician, I am running to serve on the basis of our common humanity. Though I value our unique traits and cherish our diversity, in the end, I honor our interdependence.

You are me, I am you, only through solidarity that transcends colors, dogmas, boundaries and the endless ways we are divided as human beings can we bend the arc of history towards justice. We can achieve peace on earth if we step towards this modality, yet even this shift in our mindset is not possible if we don’t first mend the divisions within ourselves. 

We have a choice before us, we can continue to bash one another and let a few pit us against one another or we can deliver justice through solidarity that transcends all divisions. #WarNoMore

The suffering that abounds around the world, after all, are only projections of the wounds within ourselves. We must heal within to heal without. True healing doesn’t come by way or rhetorical or physical violence, only love can liberate us from the shackles of wantonness and the chains of indifference that are bleeding humanity. Let us, for the sake of ourselves and our children, declare independence from tribalism and seek inclusive justice.