We Are All Human: Finding Peace In A Troubled World
*This post, originally published in 2014, has been slightly updated to reflect recent current events and in 2016 its message remains very apt*
In 2014, Taran and I watched the BBC series, Human Universe, which follows Professor Brian Cox (a famous English physicist and now TV guy) discussing the origins of the human race, our evolution from 'ape-man to spaceman', and how remote communities in Ethiopia are where it all began.
Asides from being generally interesting, talking about how the primate evolved into the humans of today, and how our brain's have enlarged yet the capacity has remained the same for thousands of years etc, it also got me thinking a bit deeply about the state of affairs in our current world.
The horrid awfulness and remarkable inequality that is occurring out there is something I ended up dwelling on when I could of just been thinking "oh monkey, monkeys are cute. Look at Brian's wrinkle-free face. I love him".
Alas I decided to get all angry and confused.
I personally feel fortunate for being relatively untouched by many of the worst things happening daily, when so many others are in the thick of it, losing their homes, families, lives.
But it is a sad truth; many nasty things are happening in the world, but they always have and they always will.
The same old, same old.
We haven't always been faced with such horror; cowering in fear of international terrorists, facing an uncertain future, surrounded by complex conflict. Oh wait, we did that, during the cold war.
Society moves in cycles of war, resolution, and new beginnings.
Going back many moons ago there were different threats; we were scared of Spanish flu (rightly so in retrospect) and witchcraft (not so justified), but the bigger society has become, the more a climate of fear we enter into.
Is it because the world is scarier? Well, somewhat. But more now than ever before, it appears and feels a lot scarier.
Social media and communication technology break down geographical borders but also remove any camouflage; today's world does not support living in ignorant bliss. It does however lead to a raft of new conversations, debates and disagreements around how the world should be run; it simultaneously motivates the liberal and bolsters the conservative.
Emotion is what underpins much of these debates, from fear, that turns to hate that becomes harmful words and actions. Donald Trump is a product of this kind of terrified and illogical society.
Going back to the start.
Let's go back in time a bit, to the days Brian Cox talks about, the very dawn of our existence, when we were living basic lives which were based around literally making it one day to the next.
We would have faced human conflict on a far smaller scale, but we also would have been seeking the best way to survive by co-existing, sharing skill-sets and forming relationships.
We sought out ways to grow and thrive, and we did.
But fast-forward to now and it's evident, with evolving comes a whole host of complication.
Sitting and wondering about our origins, marvelling at the world and space, is something which makes all the horrendous wars and acts of selfish violence, seem so incredibly small, pointless and utterly devoid of meaning.
The average citizen wants to lead an uncomplicated life with love at the center, but then whole swathes of those people have to contend with war, poverty, famine, terrorism, displacement and then, the fear and prejudice of others, often those they aspire to live alongside and share in their relative comfort.
When we desire to malign and curtail the simple desire of those who want a chance at happiness and safety in their brief lifetime upon this earth, we are, for want of a better phrase, being fucking assholes.
When we do so due to religious differences or racial ignorance, we are being uneducated fearful assholes.
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.
The lyrical articulation of this vision that I have, from the late and very great John Lennon, is one of complete simplicity, a fact I do recognize.
So call me naive and simplistic if you wish.
Maybe I see the world from a comfortable and safe place, and so the ugliness can seem nonsensical and pointless to me; I am not directly experiencing and witnessing what goes on in war-torn cities, so of course I can't relate to it or fully understand it.
I am not religious so I am not laying down my life to fight for some imagined almighty. I am not taking a weapon in my hands to defend myself or those I love.
I am not one of the victims of the worst atrocities that others in my privileged position are inflicting pain upon, actions informed by complex dysfunction.
I am simply not right amongst the troubles in the world but they are close and sometimes they feel like they are only getting closer.
For only so long can the world place importance on something other than fixing the inherent problems killing its people in all corners, not the just the white or rich ones.
The only solution
When looking at the world from the eyes of an innocent and inquisitive child, who stares at the night-sky, enchanted, we step back in time, to what the very first humans did . A child (whether today or 200,000 years ago), isn't born accustomed to tragedy and complication, it simply wishes to live, learn, grow and love.
All of us deeply seek contentment and should seek for all those around us.
Many of us are watching from the sidelines, powerless and at the same time powerful. If we live our lives positively and consciously, then that's how we create power and influence. That's how generations before us have nudged along progress and sought to keep good winning over evil.
In truth, the battle between good and bad is entirely within the individual and the choices they make each and every day.
To judge, or to try to understand?
To discriminate or to treat everyone as our equals?
To recognize the humanity in a stranger like we would in the eyes of our own children, or to focus on only our own self-interest?
Seeing the beauty of the world and embracing that, not hatred, racism, conflict, religious extremism and political quarrels, is the only way to live out your life with authenticity.
If you believe you can achieve contentment and fulfilment whilst ignoring your role in the destiny of other people's happiness, well, I don't see you ever getting there.
We must endeavour to be aware and educated, on many topics, and be aware of how we can make a difference to the world.
Short of giving our whole lives in the pursuit of a sustainable and eco-friendly world, or 'world peace' or an end to world hunger, it takes more than just one person to fix things, but it's a good place to begin.
Care, and speak up about why everyone around you should to.
Seek to understand that which frightens you, instead of destroying or imprisoning it (or them).
For me personally, I want travel to mean more than just sleeping and eating in different countries. I want travel to help me live this way wholeheartedly.
Leaving my physical comfort zone I want to know the places and the people I share this planet with. I want to share in the universal human experience.
Experiencing travel may be a selfish thing, only available to the privileged, which mostly fulfils your own happiness and focuses on your own self-development. Yet when we engage with different cultures, we are closer to supporting those who need us, and we are no longer simply living each day in a safe bubble, ignoring those far-away communities we consider alien.
It's a unifying force, travelling.
I am in a privileged position with access to money, education and thus travel. But anyone, absolutely ANYONE, in any circumstance, can acknowledge how special and insane our existence is, and appreciate that our time on this planet is far too short to fill with misery.
To try and lead a happy life is not to ignore the pain of others, it is to embrace others but also the beauty that is found in every forest, on every coastline, in every ancient ruin.
True and selfless happiness is found in looking to the past, living in (and cultivating) the present and making a better future.
Witnessing and taking in all that makes us human and all that makes this world so spectacular, is to pay respect to all those who came before us and pave the way for all those yet to arrive.
Travel (and live) with heart and give your time, love and thought to the world, in whatever way you can, because at our core, us humans are good, and we all have the same capacity for love; it can always be found, tended to and it can grow, as fast as any conflict; we are our own worst enemy but also our only saving grace.
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at NomaderHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!
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