Divisions and delusions

Seeing through labels and how they separate us

The author, a seminary graduate with a brief stint as a pastor, is a retired housing contractor. He lives in Chico.

In spite of frequent misuse, words are wonderful tools. They can, however, be misleading. Once we have a distinct word for something, we tend to see that thing as different from other things and miss relationships.

For example, we have a word for land and a word for sea; it becomes easy to see them as separate. There must be a dividing line, but where is it? Going to the beach and trying to find it, we see that waves move it and tides move it more. We might conclude that the line, though moving, still exists. But, there is more.

It we think about it only a little, we know that the land does not end at the beach. It continues under all the oceans with underwater volcanoes constantly building new earth. Earth is not only continuous, it is also connected to the Earth’s magma.

What are the boundaries of the sea? Are they the land around it and gravity? Even those seeming boundaries are illusions. Neither land nor gravity contains the ocean. Salt-free molecules of water rise through evaporation and condense in cooler atmosphere, forming clouds. Those clouds float over land, condense further in even cooler air, and become rain and snow and fill lakes and rivers. Everything we eat is nourished by the sea. The Earth’s surface is 70 percent water, and so also are we. In spite of our verbally created divisions, the land and sea are one, and one with us.

This is the case as well with all our man-made divisions. We have different political views, lifestyle choices and religions. We do not understand one another or even try to. The Sufi El Ghazali said, “We oppose things because we are ignorant of them.” Hate and fear lead to many problems.

These divisions are as illusory as the difference between land and sea. Now we have seen the Earth from the moon. We do not see flags, boundaries and religions. At our core, we are all passengers on this small blue marble. We are all children of the water of Earth. Understanding this, we could end the dangerous and stupid polarization that exists today and start working together. Then we might stop hating one another for our differences and learn to love one another for our oneness.