“There’s a dream, I feel
So rare, so real
The world in union
The world as one”
Recently I listened to the track “World in Union” from the Rugby world cup. It broke my heart. It’s such a beautiful song; musically very powerful and lyrically impacting, but it made me burst into tears. And I mean real life, man sized tears.
I often can get emotional listening to music – it is after all the biggest trigger for emotion. This is why music gets used in cinema, in television and in theatre. The use of music guides how we connect emotionally to what is taking place in front of our eyes, bringing comfort and creating tension with the various swells and pulses of the melody. The right chord progression mixed with powerful words can reduce me to tears in a heartbeat with just the sheer brilliance of it.
But I didn’t cry in awe of this song, nor did I cry because of its powerful message.
This song tore me to shreds because everything it spoke of, every positive word and encouraging phrase is so far removed from how the world actually is. I sat there and asked the question “is this what we’re heading towards?” and it crushed me when I realised the answer was no.
I recently watched the movie “Maleficent”. Right at the start of the movie, the narrator says something about the two kingdoms being united by either a great hero, or a great villain. There’s an imbalance in the world, I feel, because the people who think they are the heroes can’t unite people behind them based on their own perception of who they are, so they create great villains and rally others to support their cause. Nothing unites people faster than a common enemy!
So what is it that is missing from the human condition that stops us being united? It seems so easy. I think predominantly most people want this. Anger and hatred are such cumbersome feelings to carry around, so why aren’t we making it easier on ourselves, what is holding us back from such an amazing step forward?
Having spent the last twenty four hours really dwelling on it, I’ve come to one conclusion:
What is missing is tolerance.
This is difficult for me to understand because my parents raised my brother and I to never judge anyone, to respect everyone’s decisions and choices and to realise that ultimately we are all the same underneath. My dad told me once that he knew he had taught us well when we had been watching a news report that was highlighting racism. I was quite young, so there’s a good chance it was related to apartheid in South Africa. Dad said my brother and I had both watched whatever the story was and then had asked him to explain why it was happening. When dad told us that one group of people was being mistreated because of the colour of their skin, my brother and I were shocked and both said “but they’re just the same as everyone else, they’re all people”.
But intolerance isn’t confined to the colour of skin sadly. Disunity in the world rears its head in so many different forms lately that something seems to have been forgotten.
We’re all people.
Tolerance is essential. I’m not going to stand by my childish naivety and say we’re all the same, because we’re not. We are, inherently, different. Not everyone is born into the world with the same opportunities, no matter how many people tell you that we are. Kate, Duchess of Cornwall and my sister-in-law are both currently expecting babies and I can guarantee that those children will have vastly different opportunities and experiences in life. Every child is born into different circumstances, with different cultural backgrounds, different religious backgrounds and different social backgrounds. But every child can be taught the value of humanity. Every child can be taught acceptance, justice, respect, compassion and most importantly, love. Once we can, the world over, teach our children that, despite our differences, humanity is equal, we can begin to not only accept the differences, but celebrate them.
It takes more though than teaching our children these values. They have to be modelled by those in leadership and this is where, currently, the system has broken down. Should I ever have children, I can teach them tolerance, but as long as outdated and archaic laws and practices are in place, the world will never change and perhaps my children will sit as heartbroken as I am by a message in a song someday that seems so far out of reach.