We are all more human than otherwise.
I was reminded of this in a somewhat gross and amusing way when I overheard my wife reading a book to one of my daughters. The story is about a boy, Marvin, who is ruthlessly picked on by his classmates for being a nose picker. When his parents find out about it they console him with the information that everyone – mom, dad, the President (!) – has picked their nose at one time or another. Everyone.
The young protagonist then decides that for a class project in which the students are asked to survey their classmates with one question of their choosing, he will ask this: “Have you ever picked your nose?”
His question is met with disgust, ridicule, hysterical laughter, indignation and self-righteousness. It is also met with honesty. The students say “yes”; the principal says “yes”; even his teacher, mortified that she has been trapped by her own assignment, says “yes.” Everyone says “yes.” Well, almost everyone. One classmate says “no.” He is lying.
The truth is, we are all nose pickers. Perhaps literally, perhaps not. But that part is academic because what is most important is that we are all human and the more often we remember what is common to us the more room there is for understanding and for empathy. We all make strange noises, we all have weird habits, we all have unmet needs and we all find ways to compensate for that; some healthy, some not.
Every single human being – every single one of us – is connected through our shared and unrelenting humanness. The sooner we recognize this foundational truth, the sooner we can get away from the distraction of our differences and toward the possibility of helping one another fulfill our shared aspiration to live lives that matter.