“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I went to a restaurant last week for dinner. We sat under a covered patio on a beautiful night, hard surfaces all around and a low buzz of conversation reverberating from table to table throughout the space. Halfway through dinner a group sat at a table nearby and began loud talking to each other, and I listened as the rest of the tables reacted. We all want to be heard, and the natural inclination is to raise your own voice. The restaurant transformed right before my ears to a dull roar.
We live with technological amplifiers that drive our differences home, stir the pot and separate people into us and them. The world is full of voices seeking to be heard, and people will amplify differences for attention and profit. Just like that restaurant, we find ourselves in a place where the only way to get attention is to shout. But when everyone is doing the same thing you reach a point of diminishing returns.
The thing is, that group that sat down looked like a fun bunch of people. So did the people at the other tables. I might be slightly biased, but so are we. But we were all placed in a position where we were competing to be heard against the other tables around us. Each expressing themselves to an audience that was finding it hard to follow along.
The world has never felt more separated. Yet each of us are connected and largely the same. With similar hopes and dreams and a basic need to be heard and understood. Our separateness is an illusion. We were all on the same patio, in the same restaurant, no matter which table we sat around.