“One is forced to speak not of what is held in common between the cultures, but what is held in common between the myths, and that in its simplest archetypal forms.”

— Carl Gustav Jung

Why can’t we all just get along?

When I was a child, I loved to read.  I cut my teeth on fairy tales and then moved on to mythology.  The Greeks were my favorites; but now and then I would discover a Norse or Roman story as well, and I would embark on a new adventure.  Often, when I would find something I really enjoyed reading, I would put aside my other activities and just immerse myself in the story.  I would feel more like a participant in the tale than an observer; and I would let the stories flow through my own veins and become a part of me. Now that I am older, I still love myths.  They have taken on new meaning as I have experienced life; and often when I read one, I say, “oh, I have met that person,” or “isn’t it cool the way that describes my own experience.”

It has been my pleasure as I’ve lived my life to meet many people from different countries, different cultures, and different religious backgrounds.  What we always notice when we first meet are the differences that make us unique and sometimes even strange to one another.  What we discover as we become friends are the common threads that run through our lives and unite us as members of the family of man.

It has also been my pleasure for the past twenty-five years to live in a family of brilliant dyslexics.  It is an interesting thing to be the non-dyslexic reader among a majority who prefer just about any other pastime to reading.  What this has allowed me to do is to read aloud, often to help my children make their way through school assignments, but also as a way of sharing something I’m enjoying with my sweetheart.  When we travel, instead of plugging in a book on tape, I will ride shotgun and read as he drives.  It was during one of these times that I discovered how mythology could help us to coexist.

I was reading an incredible book called Journey Through Ten Thousand Veils, by Maryam Kabeer Faye.  It is the amazing story of the author’s personal search for truth and meaning — one which ended in the Sufi muslim world.  I had met the author at a local event, and her whole being had exuded love and light that radiated and touched all who passed by.  I read aloud, the memory of her light fresh in my mind; and as I did, I experienced a great transformation.  As my own voice read the loving words of a stranger, I realized that I was filled with love for her experience and her traditions and our shared desire to find the truth that would heal the world.

Since that day, even when I am alone, I often read aloud rather than silently.  When we read silently, we can remain observers of the stories.  When we read aloud, we participate in a more tangible way.  If you would like to increase your understanding of other cultures and traditions, I would suggest that you find some mythology and read it aloud.  When you hear your own voice speaking the words of those different worlds, I think you will discover that you can hear the places where you share common ground.  There is no need to give up your own traditions or beliefs; but there is an opportunity to expand your understanding to include others who are not so different as you might think they are.  When we move beyond the clothing, the food, and the traditions that divide us, we then discover that the things we hold dear are those that define us as human.