There is a fairly well know phrase, “Everyone is the hero of their own story.” While it is difficult to track who originally stated this(Some of its variations date back to written works from the 1800s), the intent behind the statement is relevant to virtually every aspect of life. The meaning of the quote isn’t exactly rocket science to understand, but the sad reality is that many in the world simply never stop to consider the idea. I personally believe that the people of the world are all fully capable of understanding, if only the idea is presented to them.
It is also, I think, the fundamental issue that creates most of the world’s strife. We, as the people of humanity, are incapable of truly seeing the world from our brother or sister, our friend or our foe’s perspectives. Indeed, each of us is our own isolated island of thought in a vast ocean of silence. I cannot know for certain that the man to my left or the woman to my right even sees the same colors that I do. In truth, as regards the woman, I know for a certainty that we do not. The known natural difference in eyes between women and men ensures that this is true, the genders really don’t see exactly the same color spectrum.(Source)
But that, for the most part, is simply a pointed aside. The greater point is this; That not a single one of us shares identical thoughts, patterns of experience, or systems of belief. Whether it be a complex thought about religion or politics, or the simple difference of opinion on the taste of poptart, all of us are built of so many individual and unique datum bits that it is, quite frankly, a miracle that we can communicate with each other at all. We are, in effect, each of us an Alien to all the others of our kind.
Be it by divine will or natural process, we have somehow reached a point at which we can communicate with one another. A point at which we can use the crude structure of language in an attempt to pass a rudimentary understanding of ourselves and our environment from one isolated island in space and time to another, from one human mind to its alien twin.
What truly saddens me, is what we do with this ability. Instead of seeking after ever more knowledge, after the enlightenment of ourselves and each other, we disagree and fight tooth and nail over those disagreements. We reject the importance of the other, the reality of the alien twin we have discovered. A man on a phone yells and curses at the helpless minimum wage employee on the other end of the line, because that person isn’t quite real to him. Another soul violates the right of another to live, for that person isn’t the hero of the story, just another thing to use in an effort to get ahead, to get more for the only one that matters to their own mind. Worse even still, more men and woman twist the words and actions of others, making them fit their own agenda in a quest to be “right,” to “win,” to feel as if they are the most perfect of all God or nature’s creations. It has been said, as well, that among the hardest words to ever say is “Sorry,” for to do so it to admit another deserves the acknowledgment of the wrong that was done. That the other person is real and can be hurt by what happened.
I look around at the world I see, and I wonder not how I become a misanthrope. No, I wonder instead how others have escaped that seemingly inevitable fate. Is it because they haven’t realized yet? That they are ignorant or their alien nature, too focused on their own little island to yet realize just how small it is, and just how at war it is fated to be with the others it bumps into in the infinite dark. Or perhaps, just perhaps, they see a good thing yet. A hopeful promise in dark days and light alike, of what we as a people, as a race, may yet become.
Of course, it might be that they’re telepaths, and the only alien one is me.
I leave, for the moment, with just one more thought, or perhaps a request. The next time you see someone you think unimportant, ringing up your groceries or serving you food, see if, even for a single moment, you can see yourself from behind their eyes. Then ask yourself if you like what you see.