Quote of the Week: We have more in common with each other than within ourselves.

From a lunch meeting with my friend Frederic Brenner, the photographer, philosopher and social anthropologist, he shared this powerful quote:

Nous sommes tous de lopins et d une texture si informe et diverse, que chaque pièce, chaque moment fait son jeu. Et se trouve autant de différence de nous a nous mêmes que de nous a autruy.

Michel de Montaigne. Essais

Rough translation: we each have within ourselves so much diversity and texture, so many pieces with their own role to play, that the differences we house within ourselves are greater than those between us and other people.

Frederic, who nobody will accuse of being shy, quiet or boring, just completed a 10-day meditation during which he could not speak or write – no interaction or expression with others, for 10 full days, each day with 11 hours of meditation.  Imagine.

Another insight I enjoyed him sharing was about how the three great monotheistic religions have defined much of our world and ourselves into Dualities – Mind vs. Spirit, You vs. The Other – separating in strict binary constructs things that are often far harder to separate in real life.  In the world we live in, he feels we need to better recognize the ambivalence, paradox, and complexity within each of us, within our narratives, and our traditions.

This is not just arm-chair philosophy. It has very practical applications in the work of co-existence, from OneVoice to fostering Universal Values, and simple Kindness to each other.  If we are trained to recognize ourselves in the other, if we are trained to recognize the other within us, we are far more likely to disavow absolutist visions and work harder towards achieving shared human values.

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