I was told by many in this past month that language is the greatest divide among mankind. After traveling to various countries, visiting different restaurants, creating international friendships, I have to say that there is a lot of truth to that statement. However, after going beyond the surface of having a dinner night out on the town, going beyond the excitement of bonding with another person from the opposite end of the world, I have found out that the biggest divide is not a language barrier, but that of stigma.
A refugee is merely one type of individual that lives their daily life with the reoccurring theme of stigma, but they are not the only ones. A person that identifies as LGBTQIA+ or anywhere along that vast spectrum. A person with a disability. A female, a male. A person of color. Even for using food stamps and so forth. It is list of various individuals that has no end, yet they all have two things in common: each type of person suffers with the reality of living with a stigma. But most importantly, all are human.
That is the main reality I took away from this trip.
It’s so easy to see the environment around yourself and become completely absorbed in it. Your day-to-day life. Finishing an assignment. Making sure work runs smoothly. What you will make for dinner. All the simple anxieties of our daily lives. Not only do our own unique realities and anxieties exist, but also that of 7.5 billion others.
Not only do we all suffer with stigma in our own unique forms and degrees, but we all find shelter and inhabit the same place. We are all human and we and find comfort in different corners of the same planet.
Next time you see/hear that a person is different from you, just remember, we all suffer. We all experience pain. We all experience happiness. We all experience joy. Please know, that we are all not so different from one another. With a little story-telling and not being afraid to breakdown that fourth wall, people would be more aware of how stigma affects people and how it has divided our planet and brought us to where we are today as a society.