For many around the world, the year-end holidays are considered a season of unity and peace, less encumbered by divisiveness. Can humankind make this sentiment a year-round standard?

Evolved across eons marked by famine, disease, war, and countless more trivial threats, humans have forever been subject to fear; everyone experiences useful distress or fright from time to time. Unfortunately, fear can also make us irrational and destructive; individuals and factions of all stripes have succumbed.

From deep resistance to change or differences, to misinformed paranoia about not getting one’s rightful share—and about others getting more than they deserve—one far too common reaction to unease is egocentrism, i.e. self-interest. A slightly longer description might be: “I’m/we’re more worthy.”

Again, such devastating expression of insecurity and entitlement has always been a big component of human nature; innumerable groups throughout our existence have sought to elevate themselves while ignoring, exploiting, even slaughtering others.

Yet, who today consciously believes that fixating on self or tribe, especially to intentionally hurt others, is moral or just?

Because so many don’t see that their inward-focused anxieties promote spiraling diminishment for all life, the rest of humankind must take the reins. And, because striving for a more equitable, shared existence would power an ever-expanding, increasingly desirable existence for all, might each of us instead pursue that outcome? Wouldn’t that be better than endless, accelerating, future-crushing battles for dominance?

Whether considering the world’s most privileged, most powerful people—or its most impoverished (plus all in between); whether contemplating government, corporate power, national security, social/ religious issues, gun-brandishing/ chest-pounding/ flag-waving “patriotism,” or today’s seemingly limitless dishonesty, hypocrisy, bad faith, and corruption, know that every human challenge stems from instinct-based personal fear. (In that light, empathy and compassion are easier.)

Regardless, to avoid an ever more difficult tomorrow, all of us must find a way to recognize that life is inseparably interconnected and interdependent; we sink or swim together. For the big picture, nothing matters more.

Jeremy Fryberger, Ketchum

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