Are we different or similar? These days, it feels like everyone wants to highlight our differences: you are not the same colour as me, you are not the same caste as me, you are not the same class as me. It’s brought down to even the banal aspects: you don’t talk like me, you don’t dress like me, you don’t even eat like me. And then it gets more sinister: you don’t love like me, you don’t believe like me, you don’t pray like me.
Why are we so keen to focus on the difference? Difference in itself is harmless. After all, an apple is not an orange. However, we seem too eager to treat difference as danger and as ready to forget that difference is actually another name for variety, and variety is the spice of life.
Besides the differences between us, we also have similarities. No one wants to look at them, though. I don’t care if you love your family the same way that I do; I don’t want to know that you have the same urge to express your individuality as I do; I am not interested in the fact that we both are struggling to make our way through the world.
The world, these days, seems to be consumed by the desire to cleave itself. It is not a world in which I grew up as a kid. It is not a world that I wish to leave for future kids.
So, I focus on what I share with others. I am trying to lose weight too. I worry about my aging parents too. I hate traffic too.
Probably the biggest source of sharing right now is the FIFA World Cup. People across nations are cheering for the same teams, regardless of where they originate. There is neither a Canadian nor an Indian team playing, but I am still rooting like a fanatic. (I want my favourite team, Brazil, to win.) Whenever I’m watching a match, I cheer for whichever team I feel is the underdog or playing well. Past prejudices fall away; the reigning commentary on racial supremacy fades. I see black, brown and white players helping each other up when they’ve been tackled to the ground.
It’s a relief to watch the World Cup, against the backdrop of horrible news across the world of people being separated, harmed, and discriminated against. Instead of differences, the World Cup is bringing people together out of what they share: a love of football. Think about it, all it takes is one ball, 2 goal posts, and 22 players to bring billions of people together.
We need more World Cups. Maybe they should do it every 2 years, instead of 4. The world is urgently in need of coming together, even as it is being pulled apart at the seams.