We are all social beings. We need a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves. Initially, this is a sense of belonging to a family, a community, a country and then, ultimately, to the world.
However, as a result of our experiences we may lose this sense of belonging, or even our sense of ourselves as an identity and as an individual. In this scenario, we might lose an essential part of ourselves, and then seek to find that which is lost through our relationships. Even if we don’t lose a sense of ourselves, we do all learn something about who we are through our relationships. As we get older, we hopefully gain in wisdom and are then able to impart our learnings to others where we can.
Throughout our lives, we have numerous opportunities to act either selfishly or altruistically. Over the last few decades, there has been an emphasis on the ‘Me’ culture. As a result, it seems that many people have been thinking almost exclusively about themselves and not showing great concern for others.
At the same time, countless self-help books have been spruiking ways of getting rich, ways of getting what you want, and so on. This is all very well and I see it as a good first step. We need to reach our full potential and to be able to look after ourselves before we can reach out. However, it is also important to connect with others. We are still social beings and cannot live or have a good life in a vacuum.
Connection is important. A sense of belonging is important.
During the recent (and ongoing) Australian bushfire crisis, many people have come together, and the sense of connection and belonging that this has produced has engaged people and encouraged them to act altruistically. People on the ground are working together, while others across the country are doing what they can to help.
We can therefore see this is a time of coming out of yourself and thinking, feeling and acting for others. We all have a capacity both to connect and to feel that we belong to something greater than ourselves. At times of crisis, people in the world will instinctively react and connect.
But the key question is, why does this just occur in times of crises and natural disasters?
Everyone in the world is connected. When it comes down to it, we are all the same — we are one. We are all much more similar than we are different. Differences are only skin-deep, and so why differentiate on that?
We need to start seeing ourselves as all part of the one world, and to start acting more altruistically. If we continue to divide ourselves as we have been doing into many parts, then we lose the parts of ourselves that make us whole. We can, however, start to reclaim those lost parts by changing perspective and trying to see ourselves as belonging to wider humanity.
Healing on an individual level first is a precursor to healing the world. You can do your bit by making more connections, reaching out, and being of help to others in the belief that we are all one, thereby making the world a better place.