Recently, I have spent much time asking people to sign the New Humanity Pledge
and talking about my recent books, The Art of Coexistence
and A New Humanity
. In these, I am simply asking for people to acknowledge and commit to the oneness of humanity.
In speaking with people about these topics, however, some have asked, “Is it right to expect everyone to see oneness with others? What about those who have experienced terrible things at the hands of others? How about those that are still suffering abuse?” I agree that this is a fair and essential question to ask. If you know anything about the history of humanity, you know that much of it is a long, heart-wrenching story of greed, cruelty, and violence. And this is a story that continues to this day. Equality and fairness are still not realized. Racism and many other forms of bigotry have not ended. Many wounds remain unhealed, and new ones are still being created.
Yet, I contend that we must come together as one humanity.
I know it is natural to mistrust individuals from a category that has harmed you or your people. It is also natural to desire to “flip the script” and to hold the abuser and oppressor in a lower rank, to define them as inherently soulless or unworthy. My people, the Koreans, too, have faced oppression and discrimination. The Korean peninsula remains contentiously divided, and the possibility of a return to violence, even nuclear war, remains a reality. Much of this resulted from colonial control outside our culture, so it could be easy to get lost in anger about the situation and the people responsible. Yet, I believe strongly in the importance of uniting with everyone, even those who belong to categories that have done much harm or even pose a possible threat.
It is time to acknowledge our shared humanity and our oneness, even while standing up to injustice and working to right the wrongs of the past. This is not a luxury but a necessity due to the global issues we face. Ultimately, we cannot grow past our habits of bigotry and violence if we can’t first acknowledge our shared humanity . . . with everyone
. So, let us acknowledge the pure soul in everyone, even those currently out of touch with their true selves, and hold those who have been harmed close to our hearts, providing them the space and support needed to heal and grow strong.
Returning to the Origin
Ultimately, all these terrible things resulted from illusion and delusion about perceived and assumed differences. The story of Mago Castle
, part of Korea’s traditional creation story, speaks of this tendency in humanity. In that story, humans lived in perfect peace and harmony, drinking directly from the milk of Mago, who is equivalent to Gia or Mother Earth in other traditions.
One day, however, the milk came into short supply, and one person decided to do without Mago’s milk and ate a grape instead. The sweet and sour taste of the grape suddenly awakened the man’s five senses, and for the first time, he could perceive differences in the world, including differences between people.
Others began eating this same fruit, and as a result, all the negativity and strife of the world began. People were no longer living simply according to their souls. Instead, entranced by their five senses, they began to focus on physical differences and appearances, and thus humanity’s long journey in search of reunion with the soul began.
This state of being is still with us today. Instead of focusing on the pure soul within us, we focus outward on the material, sensory world. Instead of seeing other people with beautiful souls, we see people who are different or frightening to us, competing for limited abundance. Thus, we have a divided world: one culture vs. another, men vs. women, young vs. old, right-wing vs. left-wing, and so on. If we keep going like this, we will divide ourselves into a state of mutually assured destruction, so we must acknowledge our common ground, our shared humanity, and our shared planet, the Earth.
So, regardless of whatever difficult situation you or your ancestors have grown out of, I invite you to become the hero of a new humanity. In the many hero journey stories in the world’s cultures, the hero’s path is never easy. It is a long process, and many obstacles must be faced along the way. Declaring a commitment to oneness in humanity does not mean that perfect unity is achieved overnight. There is a long process of healing and restoration that must be accomplished. It will be challenging, but I believe in you and know you are up to the task.