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Peace within the Paradox

By Carolina Sagebin Allen

This month’s tenet, “We are each unique and innately worthy of respect,” can present a paradox of seeing each person as unique, yet feeling knit together in unity as we appreciate one another’s uniqueness.  We feel that each individual is part of a single mortal family.

We are all alike in many profound ways. We were all naturally born of a woman and man, yet with a specific genetic code which carries us from infancy and hopefully old age. Each experience joins us with others, creating in-group bonds that extend from the closest ties of family to gender, race, culture, nationality, and so forth.

As I observe those around me, I see that each of us craves to be noticed, understood, and validated. Yet, we may be tempted to forgo the authentic for the counterfeit and “box in” our complex identities and present a simplified, more common identity to others. Perhaps we think this makes us more marketable and acceptable; perhaps we feel that this will keep us from being hurt or rejected.   Our understanding of our infinite worth and unique identity is forsaken in favor of an appearance, title, lifestyle, or other status indicators. This counterfeit presentation can often leave us feeling alienated and alone, and move us to distance ourselves from others. This disharmony with ourselves can leave us isolated, seeing the rest of the world as “others” who are inferior and, at worst, mortal enemies.  

When we surrender to the tension of the paradox, we find balance and centeredness in difference and sameness, and we feel peace and abundance. This peace, “I am unique – like everyone else,” and “I am innately worthy of respect – just like everyone else,”  can transform how we engage with ourselves and others both in our minds and hearts and in our actions. When we make peace with the tension of our uniqueness and simultaneously encompass the common thread of worth and respect of all people, we are grounded even as we bump up against those who appear to be VERY different from us.

I hope this month you can express feelings of love for all people, seeing them as both beautifully unique and  as part of our broader human family.