Imagine being invited to a cookout. Each person is asked to bring something different. Many of us have experienced that before, but if you haven’t, just take a second and give it a little thought. What would you bring?
Now, imagine arriving there and upon looking at the table where everyone places their items, imagine about fifteen big bags of Cheetos and nothing else. That’s right…everyone brought the same exact thing.
Now imagine another table where there is one bag of Cheetos, another of Doritos, a bowl of potato salad, some fruit, sodas, juices and a bunch of other items.
Of these two tables, which is more appealing?
On one hand, it depends on how much you love Cheetos. On the other, chances are, you’re much more attracted to the variety of items.
On top of that, does the table with the variety of items look “bad” in some way, even if there are a few items there that you may not care for? Probably not. The one with all Cheetos probably doesn’t look horrible either, but I doubt many would be drawn to that.
Speaking of which, my seven-year-old daughter is now eating the last mini bag of Cheetos we have in the house. Seriously. And I was craving them for some strange reason. So much for that.
Actress Connie Britton once wrote, “We are all human beings. We all experience pain and joy within the confines of whatever world we were born into. We cannot compare. We can only look on and say ‘Hello. I see you. I know you. I cherish your humanity and thank you for making me bigger than I am alone.’ “
She is my favorite actress and one of my favorite people for several reasons, but her attitude about comparisons is certainly one of them. She is one of the very few people I know, friend or otherwise, who seems to share some of my thoughts about comparing ourselves as people and not doing so all the time.
Now I can understand sports or any other type of competition. Obviously, the entire point those cases is to compare and to be better than the other. That’s the whole purpose.
But I especially love that second sentence. Yes, we were all born on the same planet, but not the same “world.” Each of our worlds are different.
None of us have control over the “worlds” we were born into. Some of us were born poor, others rich and others, of course, somewhere in the middle. Quite frankly, it never matters when it’s all you know. It only becomes something when you experience one of the others in some way, whether directly or vicariously through someone else. That’s when the comparisons begin.
Our family was poor for most of my childhood. While that has taught me a lot about life, in no way does it make me “better” in some way than those who weren’t poor growing up or aren’t poor now. It doesn’t mean I’ve learned “more” about life or anything else. It just means I was born into and grew up in a different world than others did. Even in terms of others who grew up poor, our worlds are likely still very different.
It’s true that there aren’t many rich people out there in comparison. However, there’s this notion that those of us who grew up poor seem to understand life a little more than they do. I don’t agree with that. Even still, it’s beside the point. Why do our minds have to go there? Why do we need to declare that we “get it” more than a rich person does?
The way I see it, we understand things differently. Not better, not worse. Just differently. At the same time, there’s a little bit that we can learn from each other. I’m a firm believer of that. Whenever there is more than one viewpoint, more than one background or more than one of anything else, my thoughts go to learning about each other, rather than to declare that one is better than the other.
On top of that, let’s be frank here. As I stated above, none of us have control of the worlds we were born into. In terms of growing up or living poor vs. rich, none of us had the choice. So it irks me to hear others brag about being poor as though the option not to be was there. It wasn’t. And hell, damn near all of us dreamed every day about being rich and many still do. So it isn’t like we had the choice and chose to be poor. We simply played the hand that we were dealt.
“For richer or for poorer” is of course, just one example. There are many others, but the idea is about the same. We are all different in many ways, but one thing we ALL have in common is that we are all human beings.
Let’s start there.
As a screenwriter, the aspect I love the most is being able to be someone else. But that’s not all. As I write different characters, one thing I am pleasantly forced to do is to look at situations from a viewpoint other than my own.
However, that doesn’t mean that I will create characters who all agree with my viewpoints or are very similar to me just to make things easier. With a few exceptions, my aim is to write characters who are very different than I am, and the sole purpose is to tell their stories, not mine. Situations will not be handled the way I would personally handle them…it will be up to my characters.
I’ve written about this once before at (https://pplscrt79.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/what-i-love-most-about-being-a-screenwriter/) so I won’t get into all of that again. But there is a lot out there that we don’t understand about other people and my way of attempting to understand is through my writing, as I write as many of those I may not understand.
It is sad to me that many of us are so reluctant to make better attempts to understand others, because there is really a lot that we can learn. I’ve always believed that. I also believe that everyone, or at least most people, don’t mind telling his or her “story” to those willing to listen objectively. I don’t believe many have a problem sharing that. It’s when the comparisons start that the walls are built. If you won’t listen to me objectively, then I won’t tell you my story. And then if you won’t tell me YOUR story, then I’ll just assume and fill in the blanks with whatever makes sense to me.
That’s no good, right?
I truly want to understand people. There are so many amazing stories out there and if it were possible, I would love to hear them all. I’m very interested in things like that and everyone has a story. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you are from or what world you were born into. I have no problem saying to someone, “Hi. My name is Robert and here is a little bit about my world. Now I would like to hear a little bit about yours.”
It’s quite lonely to feel that way sometimes, because people either don’t want to let you into their worlds or they will spend all their time with comparing your world to theirs. I do understand how people end up there and why their defenses (these “walls”) are put up, but I think we would be so much better to realize that we are all human beings.
Let’s start there.
I understand that there is so much to learn out there and many of us are particular about what we choose to learn. While it’s always the right and the choice of the individual, one thing I’ve always wished for is that more of us desired to learn about other people, especially those we don’t understand or who were born into worlds different than ours.
Whenever I go to pick up our children from day care or when I drive by their school as the kids are outside and playing, to me, this is one of the best joys in life. At the risk of sounding creepy, let me explain.
When children are at that age, the cruelness of life really has not hit them yet, for the most part. A lot of the terrible things we do as adults and some of our behaviors have not made it to them at that time. Children haven’t learned racism, drama, hate, being judgmental and things like that. Everyone just plays together. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, tall, short, skinny, overweight. The smart kids with the kids who struggle a bit. Kids from different states or even different countries. There doesn’t seem to be a big concern about the differences with them. Children embrace it very well.
Along with that, our children are 10 and 7. One thing I always try to help them to understand is that being different is okay. Everyone will not be the same, nor should they try to be. And if someone IS different, it is not our place to judge them, because after all, if they are different from us, that means we are different from them.
And do WE not want to be accepted or understood as well?
I see examples all day, every day, where there are opportunities to not only learn from the differences of other people, but to embrace them as well. There are tons of different aspects about each of us that are mildly or even wildly different from others, but the one thing that is the same?
That we are all human beings.
Let’s start there.