This might seem like an unusual or even controversial title for a BodyHelix blog. On the surface, the topic doesn’t seem to fit our sports/fitness genre. Follow along, and you may be pleasantly surprised:
Sports and the cultural divide
Humanity’s uncommon ground
Widen your aperture
Sports and the cultural divide
People and nations participating in a sport view each other through the lens of commonality rather than discord. Sports commonalities override demographics, religion, and politics. Sport is the vehicle for well-being, tolerance, and a means of raising awareness and minimizing the cultural divide. Nelson Mandela once declared that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”
Throughout history, sports connected people and nations. Cave paintings found in the Lascaux caves in France appear to depict sprinting and wrestling over 15,000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic Games were held at Olympia in 776 BC (even though it is generally accepted that the Olympics were already at least 500 years old at that time). The Olympic philosophy promotes “the elevation of mind and soul, overcoming differences between nationalities and cultures, embracing friendship, a sense of solidarity, and fair play – ultimately leading to the contribution towards world peace and the betterment of the world.”
I have been fortunate to have played tennis all over the world. I’ve made friends in several countries. Though my friends and I may live in distinctly different cultures and lead dissimilar lifestyles, the connection through our sport allows us to relate easily to each other. This sport commonality is our bond – the underlying key to our connection. We share first-hand experiences of the hard work it takes to become a high-level player. We can feel each other’s pain of losing. We struggle together through injuries and recovery. We relish in each other’s wins. Our sport rarely allows us to focus on how we are different. We all love tennis, whether we are Italian, Swiss, German, South African, Bulgarian, or American.
In the US, sports play a significant role in our society. In the 1920’s we crowned baseball as “our national pastime.” Fans love sports because they provide a sense of belonging, a connection to a broader world.
We may have ‘our team,’ yet we feel the bond to our sports culture at large – our commonality. Sports ‘tribes’ have no territorial borders; instead, our tribe extends well beyond geographical, racial, and cultural boundaries. It’s a healthy way for people across our nation to connect, compete and live with added excitement and vitality.
Humanity’s uncommon ground
Let’s transition beyond sports for a moment. I posed the original question: “Are Christians and Atheists part Buddhist?” I imagine this intriguing subject line may elicit various responses on social media. Some detractors may go ballistic, while some will laud this content. Those who read only the headers without delving into the content may have unnecessary meltdowns or totally misinterpret my sincere attempt to further our global compassion towards one another. I suppose those who don’t fully absorb, ponder, reflect, and engage are missing out on utilizing one of the greatest human gifts: reason. It’s human nature. Unfortunately, in our culture of skimmed, bullet-pointed comprehension, the emotional state quickly takes over the undisciplined mind and can produce harmful drivel. It will be interesting to see the comments on the BodyHelix FB page after this blog post. This may illustrate how our culture continues to deteriorate on uncommon ground. Commonality eludes those who refuse to find common ground.
The unequivocal answer to our question is: It depends. The answer depends on each person’s internal lens with which they view their world. If the lens’s aperture is open, then awareness is expanded, and acceptance is predictable. If the lens is myopic, the answer leans toward intolerance and bias.
As we ponder the question further, let’s assign characteristics to each group. While our culture pits Christians and Atheists on separate ends of the religious spectrum, the two have similar, if not identical, moral values. They share concerns such as fairness and protecting vulnerable individuals from harm. Buddhism holds compassion and kindness as its guiding principles. The Buddhists’ benevolence towards all beings involves active sympathy and gentle affection. Thus, Christians, Atheists and Buddhists operate on the same basic tenets of service and thoughtfulness.
Through this lens of commonality, the answer to our question is a clear “Yes!”. Christians and Atheists are part Buddhists. Suppose your aperture is open to the common usefulness. In that case, you can see that each has noble qualities that help spread goodness to the world. Can Christians, Atheists and Buddhists share space on this planet while helping humanity evolve to a higher realm? Absolutely. They can and do everywhere every day. For example, in science, a Christian and an Atheist can work side by side as colleagues in the development of a vaccine or a new medical technology that will improve our healthspan. They set aside their self-labels and relate to each other’s shared goal of bringing this vital gift to humanity.
However, if one chooses to view the question through a myopic lens, differences can become impassable. Those who operate through this closed aperture are dependent upon emotion and usually seek exclusion from anyone who disagrees with them. As we’ve evidenced over the past 24 months, this breeds division, misunderstanding, conflict, and intolerance. Commonality and kindness cannot thrive here.
All humans can find common ground with one another and a unified sense of purpose. However, many humans insist (and prefer) to live on the uncommon ground among their fellow humans. Carefully consider your answer to the question. It may create your reality, which impacts the life you choose to live.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” -Albert Einstein.
Widen your aperture
What was my purpose for posing this provocative question? I want others to see how a healthy self-awareness and the ability to analyze biases will allow our perspectives to widen and our defensiveness to lessen. Imagine if these mere words could spread worldwide. Imagine if we paused and profoundly considered our commonalities with all the planet’s peoples. I sincerely believe it could change the world.
It’s impossible to remember a time without war – certainly not in my lifetime. Yet, I believe war is an antiquated way of achieving an objective. Think about our world without war – a friendly place for the human species to begin to evolve further. Eradicating war on our planet would be an evolutionary change of the same magnitude as the invention of spears 500,000 years ago. John Reuwer, author and retired physician, puts it succinctly: We must make war obsolete before war makes us extinct.
I contend that if Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky could sit together and earnestly discuss their commonalities and appreciatively widen their apertures, their two countries could work together to build an enterprise for the good of their people. Their shared goals would be the welfare of their citizenry (i.e., health, safety, education, job growth, etc.). Unfortunately, we see their unrelenting shortsightedness set toward destruction and irreparable damage to their countries, neighboring nations, and potentially, the world.
Even though we see extraordinary world collaboration in space exploration, we still only have Earth on which to live together. The mindset that built the International Space Station can end wars, alleviate poverty and much more. In this lifetime, if each of us would devote our efforts toward seeing the good in others, caring for our planet, and applying reason, we will leave a tremendous future for the next generation. We can insist (vote) that our leaders widen their apertures and let commonality and unity flourish.
Our most outstanding future leaders will not lead their countries into war. They will govern by reason and deep thought. They will find ways to cooperate and collaborate. They will build up instead of tear down. They will find commonality and realize all humans are part of one another. When we choose to do something more life-affirming with our time and resources, then the world will evolve with us. We can decide that we live in a friendly universe.
Over the next month, observe each time your emotions are wrenched. Pause and allow reason to engage itself and disarm negative manipulative emotions. This automatically widens your lens aperture. Keep reason ahead of undisciplined emotions. Maintain curiosity and flexibility. The world is watching. Spread kindness.
BodyHelix supports the salutogenic philosophy of care that does not separate different aspects of wellness, nor does it focus on one at the expense of another. This applies to personal fitness, consumables and the environment. BodyHelix seeks commonality in improving the overall healthspan of a person, community, nation, and planet.
Up next, we begin a series on “becoming superhuman.” I think you will find it challenging, exciting and life-changing.
Be well, my friends,