We think we're all so different from one another (Bantu, Boer, Egyptian, European, Maori, Malenesian), with different histories, cultures, traditions and beliefs. Even when we find a connection with someone we thought was different, we still cling to the need to feel different, perhaps imagining that different = special.
The New Zealand Maoris seem to be a long way from North Africa but they're not. The word wahine, in Maori, means woman. Change the W to Q and you have the Arab word for woman - qahine.
Only two groups of people in the world have a chin tattoo for the women - the NZ Maori and the Atlas Mountain Arabs. They both use the same word for it - moko.
The words of the Maori haka start with "kau mate, kau mate", and are the terrified words of a young warrior, hiding in a shallow ditch from his enemies, whispering to himself, "I'm not going to die, I'm not going to die". Though they have a very different meaning in the Atlas Mountains, they are exactly the same words used by the Atlas Mountain Arabs in a song of praise to the rising sun and the new day.
Our modern spin doctors in politics and business are nothing new - we've always changed the meaning of words. The word wicca was originally a Celtic word meaning wise woman/healer. To persuade the Celts away from their Pagan (meaning rural or country) beliefs, the Catholics spun the word into an evil meaning - wicked - and wiccas (witches) were killed … nine million of them. Nowadays, the same word (wicked) is used by our teenagers to mean something that's great or amazing.
Our words and stories live on and only the meanings change.
The Australian Aborigines seem to be a long way from the ancient Celts but they're not. I spent time with the Arunda (caterpillar) people who live east of Alice Springs, Australia - their name comes from the McDonnell Ranges which look like a giant caterpillar. Describing cave paintings, Jimmy started telling me about the "Seven Sisters" - the Pleiades - which represent the women who nurture the young men until, at around twelve years of age, they enter the world of men and go through their initiations. As he was telling me the story, I suddenly said, "But that's exactly the same as the Celtic story of the Seven Sisters!"
"Well, yes, of course it is," he said. He went on to tell me other Celtic stories that were similar to the Aborigine ones. He knew of his ancient lineage and of the connection of all races, their stories and their rituals. To him, we all believed in the same things and it was only our different environments which created different ways of honouring that. The Aborigines have their corroborees outside round a fire as it is too hot inside, while the Vikings have theirs inside as it is too cold outside. The North American Indians have the White Buffalo ceremonies but the Xhosa don't - there are no buffalos in Africa!
To Jimmy, we all believe in a power greater than us and none of us actually knows the nature of that power. Knowing that we don't know, we give this power characteristics that we're familiar with, to make it accessible or comfortable for us to communicate with. Though Jesus was a Jew in the Middle East (and had swarthy skin and black hair) us "westerners" have continued to paint him as if he came from Scandinavia, with a slight suntan! The New Zealand Maori have stories of Jesus and they picture him with a brown skin and (sometimes) with tattoos. Like Jesus, God assumes different shapes, colours and natures, depending on where the description comes from.
In 2001 I worked with Llunguisi (among others) in facilitating AIDS workshops in Port Elizabeth and the Big Karoo in South Africa. At the time, he was helping people resolve their conflicts peacefully. However, he wasn't always such a peaceful man. Years previously, he had been a good friend of Steve Biko and had been the head of the student riots, blowing up everything from schools to buses to people. During that violent time in his life, he was shot, point blank, in the chest and left in a dusty Johannesburg street for dead. Fortunately, the bullet missed his heart by millimetres. He eventually regained consciousness and, because no doctor would attend a dying black man, he managed to crawl for days till he found a "friendly" black doctor, who nursed him back to health. Many years later, Llunguisi found himself in a Cape Town elevator with the white policeman who had shot him, recognising him immediately. There was no one else in the lift and Llunguisi smiled inwardly, knowing that the policeman somehow recognised him but didn't quite know why … dead men don't ride in lifts! Eventually, Llunguisi told the policeman who he was and the large, beer-potted man went very white, fearful that Llunguisi would kill him on the spot.
"It's OK," said Llunguisi, "you're safe. When you shot me, you were doing the best with what you knew … and so was I. I have long ago lost all anger and bitterness against you and anyone else we fought. Now it's a time of peace for me. Would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me?"
The policeman didn't know what to say for a moment and so Llunguisi grabbed him in an affectionate hug and the policeman burst into tears. The lift stopped and opened to two ex-enemies with their arms around each others' shoulders, tears down their cheeks, walked off to have a cup of tea together.
It doesn't matter what words we use, for they'll always be changed over time … that is, in any language except the language of Love. For those who speak in Lovian, no interpreters are ever needed, no misunderstandings are ever had and, in fact, no words are ever needed.
Wars only happen when both sides expect a different result. All conflict is the same. While we each think we'll win, we'll keep fighting each other. What we all know but forget, is that no conflict or war ever made a situation better - wars beget more wars and arguments beget more arguments.
However, in the land where they speak Lovian, there are no wars and no arguments because there are no differences. There is always a desire to unite, not separate. In Lovian, the language of Love, there are no labels to separate - only the desire to find similarities. There is no need to feel special by differences - in Lovian, all are special anyway. When we take away our labels and look under each others' skin, we'll recognise, as Jimmy and Llunguisi do, that peace is the only way, that we are all connected … we'll realise that we're not separated by history, culture, language or rituals, but united by them all. Our one and only desire is to reunite with that greater power and as we look for and find similarities in each other, we'll remember our shared history and our shared beingness.
Esperanto, the language that was supposed to unite us all with similar words, didn't work. What has always worked, however, is the most ancient of languages - Lovian - which dispenses with symbols on paper and uses feelings in the heart. The mind likes to create differences, to dissect, to break down. The heart chooses to see similarities, to know wholistically and to build up.
The greatest distance between any of us is the distance between our head and our heart.
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