Thursday, November 30, 2006

One in the same

Yesterday, I posted a blog regarding a Wednesday morning's Adam Corolla show. A friend of mine from high school posted a very good question on my myspace version of the blog. I started off with a very simple explanation of "one & the same" vs. "one in the same", then realized that I should write a whole other blog about it. So here it is:

There is a difference between "one & the same" and "one in the same". People will argue that the original is "one & the same" and therefore "one in the same" is a phonetically butchered version of "one & the same". In my opinion, this is not the case. These two phrases mean different things.

The notion of "one & the same" implies that you and I (and everyone) are a single unit and that we are the same. To me, this creates a type of uniformity between all of us. While, I can agree with the single unit aspect of this phrase, I disagree with the uniformity. I do not believe that we are all the same. We are each unique human beings with different personalities, desires, experiences, etc. So, in my opinion, we are not one & the same.

I do believe that we are one in the same. In this phrase, we again imply that you and I (and everyone) are a single unit. So, what is meant by "in the same"? What I mean by "in the same" is simply humanity. Humanity implies no similarity other than that we are human beings: bipedal animals with a high degree of intelligence (most of the time).

What does humanity mean to me? It is the state of being humane, which implies empathy and compassion. To me, being empathetic requires an acute awareness of the experiences of others. I don't mean just knowing what someone did or said. Empathetic experiences are such that you actually experience another person's experience as if you were him/her. Empathy ties directly back into our oneness. True compassion is not possible absent of empathy. Compassion is essentially empathy coupled with the desire to alleviate the suffering of another. This too ties into our oneness in that the suffering of another is suffer for us all.

This bring us back to the very good question that my friend raised: "why is insulting black people with a racist word worse than insulting overweight people?" The answer is simple. Put yourself in the space of the world created by the N-word. What does this word really imply? What is the history behind this word? What are the emotions, the pain and suffering behind this word? What is really meant when one use the N-word? Really get present to the significance of this word. The N-word is not some inconsequential word. Behind the N-word is the essence of inequality, hatred, inhumanity, indignation, humiliation, and separation. The N-word is to separate one human from another such that we are not one. It is to make someone not human. The N-word is everything that is is not to be a part of humanity. What would it mean to any of us if someone were to rob us of our own place within humanity? That is what it means when you call someone the N-word.

I don't mean to suggest that insulting someone about being overweight is not hurtful. I don't mean to invalidate the cruelty of insulting someone based upon their weight. I am merely saying that I am willing to take responsibility for what the N-word means in the world and not relegate the N-word to the same status as "cracker" or "fat ass". To me, the use of the N-word is to dishonor what it means to be human.

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