Recently I met a woman on an airplane traveling from Tampa to Detroit. Her name was Ruthann, and we had virtually nothing in common. She was obviously not a seasoned traveler; I was. She was in her mid 50’s; I am 17. But something about air travel gives a person an urge, almost an obligation, to talk to someone sitting next to them, so Ruthann and started talking, beginning with typical airline chit-chat, budding into a conversation, blossoming into a heartfelt discussion about life: our families, our faith, our hobbies and interests, our struggles and our victories. Upon arrival, we exchanged addresses, wished each other luck, and parted towards different destinations, not knowing if our paths would ever cross again. Two weeks later, I received a Christmas card in the mail from Ruthann.
This card from Ruthann holds much more significance to me than your average holiday greeting. Not because of what was written inside, but because of who it was that sent it. In sending that card, Ruthann demonstrated one of the core beliefs that has guided my relationships with people throughout my life: I believe that everyone deserves to be remembered.
Even though our lives were in completely different places, Ruthann and I connected through things we had in common. As we talked about our passion for music and our faith in God, I saw in Ruthann a little of myself. The same unexplainable force that brought us together, inspired a conversation, and developed a small but significant bond between two very ordinary people on an airplane, can be found in any situation if people are willing to look for it. Everyone, no matter how different they may seem, has more in common than they think. Too often people come in contact with other people, on airplanes, on subways, in line at the DMV, and don’t say a word; they would prefer to stay in their own bubble, their own comfortable, safe world. But how much is missed when this happens! The bubble becomes opaque. We fail to see that force that connects us all and gives humanity a common bond. It is the same force that has introduced me to so many people in different walks of life; homeless, convicts, elderly, children; and has shown me that it is not enough to simply recall their existence. Everyone has a name, a story, a struggle, a victory. Everyone loves, everyone fails, everyone laughs. We are all equal. Not one person is higher or more deserving of love than anyone else, and no one should be treated as such, or treated any lower for that matter. Everyone deserves to be remembered. It is this realization that will awaken that force around us and bring people together on common ground. Everyone is different, and as soon as we can learn to accept the differences and see past them into the beautiful hearts and minds of the human kind, we will realize that we are not so different after all.
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