It’s the first day of summer in Australia and I’m standing at my desk as light streams through the blinds. It’s a cracking hot afternoon and, honestly, I’m looking forward to a cold beer.
You might be reading this in the heart of the Canadian Rockies as the temperature plummets and the holiday decorations spring up around you.
Or perhaps you’re in central London where the days grow shorter and your kids hang out for the end of year break.
Wherever you find yourself as you read this, right now, you and I are connected. In fact, you and any single person or place on earth are connected.
Quite bizarrely, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about straight lines. Specifically, the straight line that exists between any two people on earth.
We can literally draw a straight line between ourselves and any other point. A place. A monument. A street corner. A person. A lover. A child. The only thing that separates us from anything is one straight line.
Who can I connect to at this moment? Anyone. Any mother. Any child. Any soldier, doctor, or street vendor.
Where can I connect to at this moment? Any place. Any office. Any hospital. Any swing set in any park in any city.
The only thing separating you from that point is a straight line.
Doesn’t that draw the world closer? Doesn’t that level the playing field? Can you feel how alike we all are? How we each have our dreams, our hopes, our battles, and our weaknesses? How human we are?
In light of the fear, anger, and sadness I currently see in conversations with friends and across social media feeds, this line has become stronger in my mind. Bolder. More real. More binding.
Because, as simplistic as it sounds, recognizing this line has changed my world. Recognizing this line has shown me – perhaps naively, even speciously – that there is potential for human connection in every direction. That there is a person on the other end of my line. Another person with dreams and struggles and hopes and desires.
And no, those dreams or hopes or struggles may not be the same as mine. In fact, chances are they’re not. But to recognize that others have them and they are just as important to them as mine are to me, well, that is to bring us closer as humans.
It’s much harder to be dispassionate when we realize we’re all in this together. When we allow for the connection that occurs simply because we are human and imperfect. When we recognize that for so many of us, our circumstance has very little to do with us and more to do with fate.
Because where there’s a capacity for connection, there’s room for empathy and there’s space for kindness.
“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch