I just got through watching a film called Life in a Day [watch it here], 90 minutes of the most inspiring and simplistically beautiful footage I have ever seen. Yes, that is quite a dramatic claim, but I have to attempt to convey just how much this cinematic masterpiece moved me. It's a documentary with a very straightforward and even provincial goal: to portray a single day lived out all over the world. The day was July 24, 2010, making a full moon just about the only significant and notable feature about it. The film moves roughly in chronological order throughout that given day, jumping from location to location and culture to culture, making it a positively absorbing experience. What struck me most about the film, which I guarantee will make you laugh, cry, smile, and stare in horror, is that the things that connect us as humans are the same throughout every country and culture...and are so simple.
Ok, I realize that sounds like the philosophical (albeit sophomoric) realization of an eighth grader, but as someone who has spent a little time living cross-culturally, I know how easy it is to forget the heart of what truly connects us all. When you take away common language, traditions, and food, and sprinkle in simple, yet hard-to-comprehend cultural nuances, you easily find yourself in denial that you were born on the same planet as the people you are facing daily...forgetting that you are both human and both have needs, desires, and emotions...everything just feels foreign and unrelatable.
Though I know it's unrealistic, I wish everyone was required to spend some time living within another culture; I believe there are few experiences as eye-opening. Coming to acknowledge and appreciate the common threads woven between us as people, as pieces of the same Creation, is truly mind-blowing. To finally put your finger on the human condition, on the things that we are all afraid of (loneliness and death), somehow, in a crazy and unexpected way, empowers us to relate to one another through all of our day-to-day differences. The world at large is dauntingly complex and full of a million cultures, languages, and lifestyles that might always puzzle me, but something beyond myself drives me to want to touch it, experience it, feel the pain, loss, love, joy, and intensity of other people. I guess it's safe to say that's a large part of the reason I desire to live in India again, because there is something about intangible human connectedness that draws me outside myself and closer to the all-powerful God who set this universe into motion. In our basic form, what we all desire is God and what we all fear most is a lack of God. If we as Christ-followers can begin to reframe our view of the world and see others as extensions of ourselves in God's creation and image, IMAGINE the ways in which we could experience life and love others. I shudder to think I may spend another moment of my time on earth living outside of the incredible existence that is ours to take hold of.
So with that I humbly ask you, what are YOU waiting for?