History has proven that evil can lurk anywhere and breed terrible violence into any society. Modern technology constantly reminds us of this threat—in fact, never lets us forget it. A week doesn’t go by when, on our flat-screen televisions or our mini handheld devices, we don’t see news of more carnage wreaked upon the innocent. Last year, we saw gun wielding people storm airports, plazas and schools. We saw a crazed gunman wipe out a dozen lives at a Washington naval yard while at the same time, halfway around the world, we watched a massacre at a Kenyan shopping mall. We’ve seen the devastating aftermath of suicide bombings and rocket attacks playing over and over again all over the news.
We’ve witnessed so much of this terror, from all parts of the world, that our perception of the way people in other nations live their lives is separated from reality. This occurs for all of us. No matter where we live, no matter what culture or society we belong to, we watch the world through a skewed lens.
While researching my book, I met a Palestinian father in the West Bank who asked me if I had children. When I answered that I did not, he replied that it was a good thing, because how could I raise children safely in America under the constant threat of shootings in our schools. I didn’t comment at the time, but thought it odd that this father, raising his family in the epicenter of the Middle East conflict, believed his children safer there than in America. And so we are not that different. Our personal reality is altered by our perceptions.
We are programmed, as all species are, to be wary of any perceived threat upon us. We are united in the defense of our safety and in the abhorrence of violent attacks upon the innocent. Violence is not the foundation of any society, but rather a sad and partial reality of all societies. Evil can, and does, lurk among us.
The foundation of every species is the preservation of our offspring — to provide for our young, to protect their lives and to preserve their future. Again, we are not different here. No matter what culture or society, each of us strives only to better our position and that of future generations.
As we do, we innately accept that good will overpower evil. Our conscience tells us to treat others with respect and kindness. Humanity is guided by goodness—we are bound in this. Previous generations have taught us, and we each teach our children the same. Despite our varying religions, we will find that the single most important tenet of each is again the same: from Leviticus in the Jewish Torah, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself; from the Christian Gospels, Do to others what you would have them do to you; from the Muslim Hadith, No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself; from the Buddhist Udanavarga, Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful; and from the Hindu Vedas, Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.
We are united in our desire to protect our children and future generations; to defend against evil, violence and attacks against us; and to show our fellow man respect and goodness.
Sadly, we’re so often influenced to accept a different reality—that we are not alike, and that we are poised against each other.
Our only reality is that, no matter what nation we call home, what culture we belong to, or what religion we worship with, we are not different. We are the same—and we are all bound by the same guiding principles.