TED Conversations

Lizanne Hennessey

Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach

TEDCRED 50+

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Are we really all the same?

We are all unique.
Which by definition means, we are all different.
Which, in turn, should mean we're all the same.
But we're not, because we're all unique.

Thoughts?

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  • Apr 27 2013: We all are on the same boat
  • Apr 20 2013: I think we are all the same. If we dig deeply within ourselves and ask what are our core needs and filter out the materialistic wants, i think our answers will be the same.
    • Apr 22 2013: What an insightful thought, Yaqoub.

      I believe our ability to filter out what's really important is being compromised by the need to 'fit in', and to 'succeed'. What is important to us as individuals, and what is important to society as a whole? In actuality, it should be the same thing, if you argue we are all indeed the same, then our 'core needs' as you put it should be the same too... So what are those core needs? Health, happiness, a world to live in, love? Doesn't seem like a lot, but materialism has a way of convincing us that what we want, isn't what we really want. What we want is what someone else wants us to want. Craziness!
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    Apr 22 2013: In the end, I think, it's all in our mind. While oneness (similarity) is reassuring, otherness (difference) is unsafe. Our minds swing between the two like a pendulum. At two ends of the swing lie our follies. Follies like communalism (our folk cannot be wrong) and suspicion (not one of us therefore enemy).
    • Apr 23 2013: Yes, Pabitra, difference scares us. I agree.
      In Dutch, there's a saying: 'Wat de boer niet kent, eet hij niet', in other words: what the farmer doesn't know, he won't eat. What we aren't familiar with, we won't touch. It applies to everything, of course. Like a child, who says he doesn't like sprouts because he's never tried them.
      If we don't know a musician, we won't listen to his/her music, if we don't know the artist, we won't look at his/her painting...

      Fortunately, I am getting the distinct impression those kinds of folks aren't here on TED...!
  • Apr 21 2013: We are no more unique than the leaves on a tree. We emerge from the branch which emerges from the trunk which emerges from the root which emerges from the Earth. We live a short while, fall to the ground, and begin the journey again.

    There IS uniqueness in leaves, and in people. But it is Dwarfed by the Oneness that is ultimately so obvious and in front of our face that we Routinely and Habitually overlook it. This misperception of uniqueness is the Original Sin.......we truly believe that we are Separate from one another. We truly believe we are separate from this thing we call Nature. This is Why we are waging a war of Terror on Nature.........War is Always about Control and is grounded in the misperception of the Separateness of others and Our uniqueness. Perceived Specialness divides and ultimately destroys.

    We are not living this life. Life is living us.
    • Apr 22 2013: Love it, thanks Chris!!!
    • Apr 22 2013: Scott, your statement reminds me of a quote in one of Sir Ken Robinson's presentations (Education is Killing Creativity, I believe). He said something to the effect of, if all insects were to be removed from the planet, within 50 years, the earth would die out. If all humans were to be removed form the planet, within 50 years, the earth would flourish.

      Knowing how similar we are to each other is also knowing how destructive we can be on such a fragile system.

      How can we get people to understand everyone really is interconnected, that we really are fundamentally the same?
      I agree, that perceived specialness divides and ultimately destroys... look at celebrities, especially child artists or actors, who are segregated by fame. It also makes me think of a conversation between Dash and his mom in the movie, "The Incredibles":

      Helen Parr (telling her son why he's not allowed to do his best): "Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in."

      Helen Parr (to her son): "Everyone's special, Dash."
      Dash: "Which is another way of saying no one is."

      Pretty profound for a Disney movie...!
      • Apr 27 2013: Good morning....

        Your Question:

        "How can we get people to understand everyone really is interconnected, that we really are fundamentally the same?"

        My Answer:

        WE cannot transform others. Believing that we can reinforces our Original Misperception of Separateness. That there is an "I" that can "do" something to fundamentally change another.... This is a False Belief. :-)

        We can only transform our perceived Selves through Self-Inquiry. "Afterwards" the question of How to Cause a Perceptual Transformation in Others becomes irrelevant and ceases to be a concern. Though, others will be transformed in "your" presence.....Without Effort.
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    Apr 20 2013: Hello again Lizanne:>)
    I believe we are more the same than different. In my perception, we are all interconnected, we all share the earth, and we all share many of the same thoughts, feelings and emotions.

    We are different because we are born into different cultures, with different backgrounds, and that, to me, is the gift we can share with each other. Even though THAT is a difference, we are the same, because we all have the opportunity to share what is different!!!
    • Apr 22 2013: Hi Colleen! Good to see you again! :)

      Hear, hear!
      Yes, our backgrounds provide a wealth of experience to share. We all know how it feels to meet someone who has a similar background. To have 'things in common' is reassuring, it means there are certain things you don't need to explain. I think, when you need to explain or justify where you come from, that's when your background becomes 'baggage' (a terrible term!)

      I read about your out-of-body experience and have a feeling you might know more about this feeling of being interconnected than anyone! I look forward to sharing more thoughts and ideas with you!
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        Apr 22 2013: Hi Lizanne:>)
        Yes, if we are aware, we know how good it feels to meet someone who is similar in some ways:>)

        Do you think/feel that the circumstances under which we are explaining may make a difference? If we are explaining something to a person who genuinely wants to learn about us, it feels good to me, and it provides an opportunity to share information for both participants.

        Whereas, if we are explaining for the purpose of justifying, or proving ourselves to be "right", that doesn't feel so good to me, and I do not participate in those conversations.

        Is it all "baggage" in your perception? Or is it the intent that is the "baggage"?
        • Apr 23 2013: Hi Colleen! Hey, did you get a haircut?? ;)

          Absolutely! As soon as you feel the need to justify yourself, I agree, something isn't right...
          But I feel it's something people often encounter, maybe because of the human desire to 'fit in'?

          I have the feeling often that I don't fit in, maybe because I am a 'third culture kid' (otherwise known as 'terminally unique syndrome'!!), my background is more often than not so very different from those I interact with on a daily basis, I also do not participate in conversations that make me feel like I need to justify where I'm coming from. At the same time, I certainly don't try to force my views, formed by the unique circumstances in which I was brought up, on others. It comes down to respect.

          To me, nothing is baggage. Baggage implies a burden, something you have to carry around. Everything you have gone through is what makes you who you are, is what distinguishes you from someone else, is the combination of ingredients that make you you.

          I like to think we are cocktails of all different flavors, mixed up, stirred or shaken, and meant to be enjoyed!
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        May 1 2013: Hi Lizanne,
        I agree...nothing is baggage, unless we choose to carry it as such, and everything we have experienced makes us who and what we are.

        You wrote in a previous comment...
        "I think, when you need to explain or justify where you come from, that's when your background becomes 'baggage' (a terrible term!)"

        My belief and practice, is that we can grow and evolve with the information learned from our experiences, OR, we can carry it as a burden (baggage) throughout the life adventure, which, in my perception makes it either a burden, or an opportunity......as we choose:>)

        Yes indeed...."we are cocktails of all different flavors, mixed up, stirred or shaken, and meant to be enjoyed!"
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      Apr 22 2013: Hi Colleen! That's a sweet smile my friend. I see your new haircut!! :)
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        Apr 23 2013: Thanks Pabitra,
        We are the same in that we have the ability to share smiles.
        We may be different, because some folks do not yet know how valuable smiling is to ourselves and others:>)

        BTW...hair is not cut....it is getting really long and hiding in the back of the head:>)
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        Apr 23 2013: Smiles are indeed a gift to all of us Pabitra....glad you discovered that:>)

        LOL...Yes, I have a "great grey braid". And here we go again with the same/different concept.
        The braiding is the same as in the portrait you provide the link for. The hair color and other characteristics are a wee bit different!!! LOL:>)
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    Apr 20 2013: We are all spiritual beings, experiencing life on earth. Our bodies has almost the same response to our physical environment. No one would be in the Arctic of the Northern Hemisphere and say (barechested) 'Yay! It's freaking hot here'; hardly anyone lives in the clouds. Only a few people would see a bereaved person and say 'Dude, why are you crying? Get us some beer here and lets partei! (party)'.

    That is why Hollywood earns billions from the movies; we can relate; we can empathize, we can symphathize. And we've got different ways of saying the same thing.

    It is true, "We are one, but not the same"
    • Apr 22 2013: I really like the way you put this, Feyisayo!

      You said, "Our bodies has almost the same response to our physical environment." I loved your example that someone in the Arctic wouldn't say, it's hot! Wonderful.
      But then I thought of something:
      I live in Holland, which as a maritime climate which is pretty mild all year round. We do have the ocassional 'harsh' winter with temps that reach -10, and can get temperatures up to around 30 degrees in the summer.

      I have friends from Indonesia and Africa who I will see wearing a winter coat in the summer! I have other friends from Ireland or Scandinavia who put their shorts on as soon as the temperature breaks 10 degrees...

      So even the way our bodies react to external conditions differs... but is that a physical thing, a genetic thing, a mental thing?
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        Apr 22 2013: You spoke about friends in Scandanavia and Ireland; friends in Africa and Indonesia. That is locational specificity, and the people there have similar response to the climate.
        If you were there you would acclimatize.
        Even though no one (except the insane) would complain about high temperatures in the Arctic, or shiver under the baking-hot sun of the Sahara desert.
        • Apr 23 2013: True, I totally understand what you were getting at.

          I am often too warm, regardless of the temperature. I blame my Irish and Polish genes when I find myself sweating through even the thinnest t-shirt in the summer!

          I guess by my comment, I was wondering if it's possible for people to take their native climates with them wherever they go... What do you think?
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    May 2 2013: I just finished reading "War with the Newts" by Karel Capek ... He has a very interesting take on the question of humans' obsession with distinction ...
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    May 2 2013: Ahh, yes, it is easy to get discouraged when the world around us shows littie signs of progress, but I am an optimist, and it might be just a matter of time.

    Our human nature is wonderfully two-fold: we are rational, and we are irrational, we have good within, and we have evil within, we need to be selfish to survive, and we need to be social and altruistic to survive. And both sides of this apparently irreconciliable nature have (at least some) basis in our dna and the way dna shapes our brains

    The reason for my optimism is that culture and knowledge spreads and changes at a much faster rate than dna mutations. Once we understand better these apparent "halves" in us, we can change our behavior in a better direction (i call better direction one that minimizes overall suffering across a large group of individuals)

    this understanding will arrive thousands of years before our dna changes our nature in a significant way

    Of course, a faster solution was imagined by Carl Sagan: if one day an alien species decides to visit planet earth, we will realize, very quickly, how pitifully small are our "so important" differences

    cheers

    Andres
    • May 3 2013: Andres, what a joy to read this.
      All one needs to do is gaze at stars to realize the insignificance of our petty problems.
      I share your optimism!
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    Apr 22 2013: We are extremely unique as everything in the universe is. From all the possible forms molecules could have taken, they took the one that is you. I think this is amazing. And we're not the same -we're equal, though. We all have the same original nature, but it has been altered by our experiences.
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    • Apr 22 2013: Chris, you hit a soft spot with me, I adore Joni Mitchell and as a lyricist myself, am in awe of her lyrical abilities!

      Wow, that was when music was about so much more than going out and having a good time. That was when people used music to communicate a message worth listening to.
      Music is what we were genetically designed to make, all of us. It's one of the unique similarities we share, but too often deny... sadly enough!

      Thank you so much for sharing this!
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    Apr 20 2013: 'Under the same sky, waiting for each other, under the same sky , trying to survive, searching for the heart, that will understand us, for a moment to know, that we are one soul' - as Lara Fabian says.
    I think, right, we are all one. Even if every country has its own traditions and culture is not the same, we have the same feelings, we can understand each other without any words. Also, we live the same life mostly. We go to school, have fun with our friends, visit our relatives, go to the colledge or university, then we go to work...
    • Apr 22 2013: Hi Kamila!

      That's quite an inspirational quote.

      Thank you for bringing up the concept of understanding each other without words! We 'know' so much about each other without saying anything, we feel each other's vibrations, purely because we can relate as humans on so many levels!
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    Apr 20 2013: We all are different from DNA no one shares same blood, DNA cause we all have different tastes, foods, moods etc etc but our minds are so narrow that we believe in everything we see everything we told i think is the reason our world is at this stage wars, economic crisis, pollution, etc etc i will leave this with a beautiful quote "To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world."

    Thank you
    • Apr 22 2013: Thank you, Junaid!

      I agree, no one shares the same blood - and even if we do, we are fundamentally different from one another.

      We're the product of so many factors - our upbringing, our genetic make-up, our environment... this in turn is what makes us more or less susceptible to negativity of the world around us. Not everyone knows how to think outside the box...

      I love the quote you shared - whose it is?
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        Apr 22 2013: You're welcome,

        I don't know about the quote

        you know if we want to save our planet we have to be polite, and patience, i think 99% of people wants to live peacefully, in a healthy and better environment but those 1% of people are somehow always ahead in destroying.
        • Apr 23 2013: I agree, it always seems to be a much smaller percentage who take advantage, manipulate and corrupt, and unfortunately, those types are often the ones who somehow end up with the power to make decisions that affect us all... !
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    Apr 20 2013: We are similarly different and uniquely common.
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    Apr 19 2013: This feature isn't unique to people. There are features dogs have in common that makes it appropriate to label them dogs, but they have many differences as well in appearance, intelligence, temperament, food tastes, and health risks.

    There are attributes trees share that makes it appropriate to call them trees, but there are different types of trees with different characteristics and no two trees are identical.

    I don't think it is a paradox that two items one might compare have attributes in common as well as attributes that differ.
    • Apr 22 2013: Hi again, Fritzie!
      Thanks for your thoughts - I'm curious... What are your thoughts on a human clone?
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        Apr 22 2013: Identical twins still have common features and differences, staying with your theme.
  • May 3 2013: Hi Lizzie,
    Im actually happy for you that you are actively involved in the upbringing of your children. May they grow up to be whatever that is in store for them. May you and your kids have a bright future
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    May 2 2013: Hi Liz, hi to all of you!
    Here is what i believe..We are same organisms , same DNA , same species.. Some they have different colour (Africa, China), are they different? No, even those have the same DNA , they just have been influenced by the environmentall climates.
    One thing we all have different OUR MIND that defines our choices , our feelings, our character , our respondings in a variety of circumsatances...
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    May 2 2013: Hi Lizanne

    I think that whether we appear unique or different depends on the piece of the picture we decide to focus on at a particular point in time.

    As humans, it is a fact that we share many traits, thanks to our shared DNA. Same number of limbs, same basic chemical reactions down to the cellular level. We even have a subconscious that performs quite predictably across the species (think optical illusions, for example)

    But then again, just like legos, we come in all sizes, shapes and colors. And even for identical twins, behavior can be completely different in response to the exact same stimulus

    I think that in similarity lies our deep interconnection, and in variety lies beauty

    You reminded me of a similar (a bit Orwellian) word play: we are all equal, some are just more "equal" than others

    Thanks for an interesting question

    cheers

    Andres
  • May 1 2013: Hi Lizzie,
    Generally speaking, people want the same things in life. All humans have the same basic physical, spiritual and emotional needs. So in the general sense, yes we all are the same.
    But specifying the qualities of a single human being over other human beings should bring up differences. I think these specific qualities are again, different approaches to satisfying the same basic human needs.
    The question that really matters is that, are we all special in our uniqueness. Speciality defining how well we have satisfied our basic human needs.
    • May 2 2013: Hi Salman!
      I want to answer your question "are we all special in our uniqueness" with another question, namely:
      Has everyone taken the time and/or energy to discover their own uniqueness?
      Or, has everyone been give the opportunity (as children) to explore themselves in order to find their own 'special uniqueness'?
      I know plenty of folks who are content in their lives without any 'special uniqueness' they are aware of. Being a creative spirit to the extremes, I used to feel sympathy for those who didn't have some kind of talent or something that set them apart from the rest. I discovered when I got to know some of these people, that being unique is something they never even desired, let alone strive for.
      • May 2 2013: Hi Lizzie,
        Self discovery is a life long process. So understanding and realizing your own uniqueness takes time.
        As far as i have observed life and people, only new experiences, adversities and the harsh realities of life really lead people to discover their respective uniqueness. But ultimate uniqueness does not exist in human beings. People who have never faced hardships can never truly realize their uniqueness. People who experience new things in life are closer to self discovery than those who are just living a boring, stale life. As adults, we can do the above mentioned things, but as children the only thing required is to have a healthy and active imagination. (Even adults should ignite their respective imaginations)

        The worst thing parents and teachers do is stunting the imagination in children by telling them what they should and what they should not imagine. We do this because we think inherently that we know everything about what is good for them and what is right for them. In truth, we do not know everything. Children should be given ample space to question established laws and rules in a positive manner. Only then can children can grow into self realizing individuals.

        Imagine the stages a new born baby passes through until it becomes a toddler and then goes on to becoming an inquisitive child questioning everything. We should always answer them positively in a manner which stimulates their imagination.
        • May 3 2013: Hi Salman!
          As a Mom of two, your comment really hit home with me...

          One of your comments made me think: "...as children the only thing required is to have a healthy and active imagination."
          Absolutely, an imagination is vital to survival*, but recently I have noticed something even more important going on with my own kids. Empathy.

          My kids are just starting to get the concept of empathy, but to get it, they have to know what it is to feel pain, or excitement, or frustration, in order to recognize it in someone else. I have to let my kids feel the entire range of emotions, even when it breaks my heart, to teach them how to recognize those emotions in someone else. I believe this is key to self-respect, communication and expression.


          * there's a conversation on the topic of pretending and imagination going on right now: http://www.ted.com/conversations/18006/playing_pretend_and_make_belie.html
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    May 1 2013: Life is strange. Sometimes I feel my blood, and I wonder what makes it my blood, it seems kind of like generic blood, like it could be anybody else's blood. The Rolling Stones had a blood change, where maybe all the blood was taken out of their body and changed with others' blood, and yet they still remained the Rolling Stones.
    • May 2 2013: Hi Greg,
      what an awesome concept - the Stones had a communal blood transplant?? Coincidentally, I was listening to a so-called Stones expert on the radio who was discussing whether or not the Stones rocked as good as they used to... Perhaps is was in their blood?!

      I often hear people say, when my kids sing and make music, that it's in their blood. I don't necessarily nod in agreement, because they have constant access to instruments and we sing and make music every day. But I don't necessarily disagree either...

      My dad is an industrial designer and we always laughed at our own private joke, that I had 'designer genes'. Pun intended.
  • May 1 2013: We all have the same biological needs such as clean air, clean water, nutritious food, clothes and shelter as well as social needs that stimulate our brain to function properly.

    We do however develop and grow different values, interests and actions based on our upbringing and environment. But is this to say that we are all unique? Everybody can learn the same thing and come up with the same ideas if they have been subject to the same information and stimulus as anybody else.

    We are perhaps unique in a physical sense, looking different from each other. But in terms of values, interests and actions, uniqueness is based upon how many different types of upbringing and environments people are brought up in.
    • May 2 2013: Hi Mats,
      thank you for bringing up the concept of values!

      I work a lot with children, and often see examples of what you suggest, that "Everybody can learn the same thing and come up with the same ideas if they have been subject to the same information and stimulus as anybody else." When we do a music/singing workshop and do a song about living in a forest, you wouldn't believe how many kids pretend to be a tree falling down, thinking they were the very first ones to come up with the idea.

      We are a compilation of circumstances, I agree, and everyone's set of circumstances is different.
  • W T 100+

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    May 1 2013: Hi Lizanne, I collect quotes. Quotes, to me, are therapeutic. You get alot of bang for your buck! So here's a quote for you. Enjoy:

    "You were born an original, don't die a copy."
    • May 2 2013: LOVE that quote, Mary.
      I say something similar to my voice students, who all want to sound like the latest, most popular singer, regardless of whether or not their voice sounds anything like theirs!!

      I like this one too:
      "The minute you start swimming with the stream is the minute when you get lost in the crowd."
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    Apr 30 2013: We are human beings with the freewill to go the extreme, become angels or devils.

    Which do we want to experience to eternity??
    • May 1 2013: Interesting question, Adriaan...
      I have gone through periods where I was 'devlish', I learned how to become more of an 'angel'... I don't know if I could 'be' one without the other.
      Dark and light, positive and negative, angels and devils... would you agree we all have both sides?
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        May 1 2013: Hi Liz, totally agree. In fact I believe that is what life is all about, choices. It is making choices (and thus what we choose) which shapes our character.
        Our character is determined by what we love, our priorities. As the saying goes: "We are what we love."
        So all that put together, I very much believe we can all become (like) angels now. One of our daughters already is one, I'm pretty sure :)

        The advantage can be that even if we go through a difficult time, we can stay focused on the thought that this temporary hardship can make me a better and stronger person.
  • Apr 24 2013: hi
  • Apr 23 2013: We are the intelligence of the land. The vicissitudes of similitude and difference stem from our shared purpose: To direct the growth of our worlds. Aptitudes reflect the Mother's diversity, and drive the Father's oneness. The same in our difference, similarly different being human is a stop gap between something infinitely dense and unimaginably sublime. Are all the other chrysalises the same?
    • Apr 23 2013: Hi Stacey!
      I really like how you suggest our aptitude is something feminine, while our drive is masculine. The positive and negative forces combined together, which we all posses.
      Do you mean, by "Are all the other chrysalises the same", that we perhaps choose the same 'safe havens'? That trying to find a solitary spot for ourselves is virtually impossible?
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    Apr 22 2013: With all due respect I can only agree partly. Even the villains handle themselves. I believe that the key is a degree of split personify: relating to ourselves through others. Have you ever listened to your own recoded voice? Within ourselves we sound very different to what we sound like without, how we sound to the others. Tolerance has become almost a swear word - though it is much too long for a four letter word - but to me the key is still tolerance. We are beings who cannot live without judgement, essential reflex for survival, but we must learn to keep them to ourselves. I have spent more than half my life outside my native country. Being the outsider is certainly not alien to me, yet within myself I feel at home, in a messy home ... But nonetheless at home. Allow people to think what they want but also to understand that their own reflection in the other person's eye is beyond their control. "vive la difference," say the French.
    • Apr 30 2013: How interesting, Michael, that you and I are both "Third Culture Kids"! I have also spent more than half my life in a country other than where I was born, and agree wholeheartedly with you that we relate to ourselves through others.

      Growing up and living in a culture other than 'my own' and yet having so many fundamental similarities with its people gives me a feeling of security, that wherever I end up on this earth, i will be fine.
      And yet, being different, or my preferred TCK term "terminally unique", is also my fate, albeit purely by definition, my being a 'foreigner'.
      There I go again, we're all the same because we're all not the same...
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    Apr 21 2013: .
    .
    "We are really all the same" by DNA composition.
    "We are really all unique" by human's ultra-high accuracy.
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    Apr 21 2013: All the same, all different.... One thing is certain... We all share the same planet. .... Unless some alien is reading this and taking the idea of TED to a different planet... Who are we? We is inclusive... So when I read we in this context, I assume that the author refers to humans... Whether someone believes in evolution or is stuck in creation, we meet here because we share some characteristics that include us in this group. So it also sets "us" apart from other animals... Unfortunately WE humans concentrate perhaps a little too much on the speculations about who we are rather then how we can survive as the collective.... The species. 7 billion of us? Perhaps as resources become rarer and the fighting for access becomes fiercer we will again intensify the differentiation between the good we and the bad others. ....
    • Apr 22 2013: Hi Michael, welcome to this engaging conversation and thank you for your 'two cents'!

      You said, "we concentrate perhaps a little too much on the speculations about who we are rather than how we can survive as the collective".

      You are so right. We spend so much time focused on ourselves, on who we are, where we come from, we are faced inward, when what we should really be doing is focusing on each other.
      I try to teach my kids to respect themselves, express themselves and communicate their feelings, good or bad, in the hopes that this will 'arm' them with the tools to respect and communicate with others.
      Would you agree, that once we have a handle on ourselves, we can turn outward and concentrate on each other. If we aren't given the tools as children to survive, how can we be expected to survive as a collective?