How can we really "be there" for each other in times of desolation if we do not, either out of denseness or distraction, recognize and respect our common humanity?
I'm not thinking about our closest relationships - most people come by their close relationships naturally, and by their very nature, these relationships include a lot of give and take. Close relationships always expose our vulnerability, the naked truth about who we are and what we represent, and the understanding that the other person will still be there to celebrate you.
But it's those other relationships - the ones we rely on but don't care too deeply about? We may really depend on the bus driver to be cheery every morning, but do we think it important to take the time to really connect - to share our common humanity? How can we possibly show compassion on desperate days to a co-worker if we never connected enough to know about their normal life?
With that in mind, I led a new exercise at our staff meeting today. In the last few minutes, I asked everyone to pair up and discover something about the other that they enjoy doing when they are not at work. It was a hit! After a few minutes, we regrouped and reported out...colleagues introduced each other and shared a personal tidbit - a favorite hobby, possession, skill. It was well received, because after all this time of working together, many of us still don't really know much about each other.
I think our highest life's order is to show compassion, to hold each other up, to care. It is that sweet understanding that most of us enjoy, that, while suffering and personal failure may be inevitable, counting on those around you to be glum with you, or buoy your spirits, to share in your human experience in any number of ways, makes it just a little easier to carry on.