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viewpoint

Hear each other

| Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A month ago, my friend Megh emailed me with an important question. Megh, who was working in a South African school this past summer, had started a project called Words for the World. She asked the people she interacted with on a daily basis (many of them homeless), “If you could say one thing to the world, what would it be?” She posed a similar question to me. “Susan, what does the world need to hear right now?”

The world needs to hear each other. I am not sure when the world began to feel so incredibly divisive, but this new reality is one that scares me. It really scares me, down to the core of my being, that people care more about being “right” than they do about each other. As human beings, we share a common humanity. This is a truth that we cannot forget. Governments care more about money and prestige than their own people. Gridlock is not only expected, but also praised at times. People get so hung up on the labels of things — not calling it “systemic,” not calling it “hatred,” not calling it “bigotry,” etc. But in truth — do those labels really matter? Debating about labels prevents us from hearing each other and hearing each other’s concerns. At the core of it, aren’t we all fearful for the future of humanity? Aren’t we all afraid of the fear that has begun to drive and control our world? Aren’t we all disgusted by the taking of innocent lives, and don’t we all wish it would end?

When did our common understanding die? This nation, this world, was built on differences, and the respect, love and understanding that overcame those differences. As the respect for human dignity begins to erode, our differences are now being used as weapons. Do we not have enough weapons in this world already? Do we really need to also arm ourselves with hatred and ignorance and pride?

I beg the world — I am on my knees — to return to respect and to recognize our common humanity. The world needs to hear each other. The world needs to hear each other’s honesty, dreams, experiences and fears. We are all human beings, and we all need each other.

I believe that every single one of you reading this has the potential to be a true bringer of joy, who is eager to be a driving force of good in the world. We all have the ability to revive our common humanity. Take the first step and listen. Listen to those around you and refrain from dismissing anyone’s opinion as irrelevant. Once we remember that every human being is worthy, we will take real steps towards reclaiming the respect and love that will heal our divisive world.

Contact Susan Zhu at szhu4@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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