Why has there never been unity in the world? The missing elements.
Over 50 years ago, a human set foot on the moon and his first words were "That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind." It was a momentous occasion not just for one nation or one space agency, but for the entire humankind. Neil Armstrong, who took that pioneering first step on the moon, could have replaced "man" with "me" and "mankind" with "American." In the spontaneity of that moment, it became an achievement for the entire human race. Such unifying moments are unfortunately rare. They can define a generation and change the world for the better. How do we recreate such moments?
If we choose, we can focus on what is common amongst humans. However, the mind which is the house of variety likes to dwell on differences. According to a recent study which surveyed DNA from over 1000 people spread over different geographical areas, there is a striking genetic similarity between humans. The external differences in shape and color come from a tiny minority of genes. The inference is that we are more similar than dissimilar.
It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view to have this genetic similarity. If a catastrophic natural event affects one part of the planet, it would not fundamentally change the human race. Common genetic traits will ensure the propagation of the human race. It is also more efficient to have such genetic similarity, which is a form of natural mass production. Imagine a factory which makes hundreds of cars every day, each one different from the other. It would logistically be complicated. But that same factory can easily offer 4-5 various paint schemes on the same car with minimal disruption to the assembly line.
Similarly, human bodies are very similar under the skin. The mind amplifies small external differences, and we divide the one human race into various groups. Whatever differences the mind chooses to dwell on, three things are common to all human beings: birth, death, and the life span in between. We cannot choose our birth, and neither can we determine the time of death. However, in the intervening time, we are free to decide how we think and act, creating the perceived differences amongst us.
Like the genetic similarity we share, the underlying mechanism of the mind is also very similar. Just as thousands of leaves on a tree share a few big branches connected to one main trunk, there are thousands of varieties of thoughts which have a handful of deep-seated motivations which are in turn linked to the ego. The ego connects with the invisible core of our being. Thoughts that are the stickiest have fear, desires, and expectations as their basis. Such thoughts create habitual patterns in which our awareness circulates.
Bound by habits, both individual and societal, it becomes difficult to break free from the mind. Through the mind, we become aware of our differences. Focusing on our differences is like watering the leaves of a plant and looking for common ground is like watering the tip of the roots deep underground. A few drops of water on the roots of a tree is more beneficial to its growth than tens of gallons on poured on its leaves and trunk.
We can dwell on our differences, wasting enormous amounts of time, but it will not make us any happier. The ego may be satisfied with the divisions that the mind creates, but the ego cannot make us happy. Whatever happiness it promises is illusory. But when we think of what we share in common, we feel freer and happier. We feel less threatened by others, and this creates space for awareness to grow. There is one sky, one sun, one planet, and its moon we all share in common. It does not cost us anything to look up at the sky with such a thought. The mind and ego are no match for the unifying power of such a simple exercise.
It may be several decades before another human returns to the moon. But at this very moment, we can think of the moon and instantly take our awareness there, or we can look at the night sky and imagine our footprint on that lunar world. When we contrast that desolate alien landscape with the variety and familiarity of the earth with its mountains, rivers, forests, cities, and people, it's not hard to be grateful for the world we all share. In every moment filled with gratitude and acceptance, we become one. It may just be a thought, but it is a powerful unifying force.