For thousands of years we humans have divided ourselves into groups based on our differences. Tribes and clans emerged based on family lineage, women were treated as property by men, and we segregated ourselves based on religion and within those religions by sects. In modern times we’ve learned to keep dividing and subdividing, whether by nation–states, political affiliation, economic class, race/ethnicity/color, sexual orientation, age group, the list is endless.

Prior to the days of mechanized transport, squabbling between groups was limited by distance mostly to geographic neighbors. But now, with the rapidly accelerating technological advances of this modern age, humanity has created a world where we can be anywhere in a day, or have a real-time conversation with the image of a person on a screen anywhere in the world in a moment. Our technologies have brought humanity together into a single whole. We’re no longer protected by distance from a human sociology in which individuals favor members of their own group, and consciously or unconsciously look down on members of other groups. If humanity is to survive and thrive in this age and in future ages, we must adapt our sociology to the world we have created. We must begin to actively recognize our common humanity.

COVID–19 shows us the way. This microscopic infectious agent defies human sociology, seeing no boundaries between humans. It doesn’t see male or female or gay or straight or transsexual. It doesn’t see black or white or brown or red or yellow. It sees neither abled nor disabled. It doesn’t care whether you’re Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist or Sikh. It doesn’t care whether you live in China or Canada or Ecuador or Pakistan. It doesn’t care what language you speak or how old you are. It doesn’t care what your hobbies are or what books you like to read. It sees us as we are and as we have always been – a single species with uncountable similarities that are present in any possible human grouping we could create.

I find it impossible not to see this as a powerful lesson for humanity in this modern age. Whether from a god represented by myriads of faiths, whether from the deep wisdom of Mother Earth, or whether simply an unconscious impulse energized by all creation’s urge to survive and thrive, the message is clear. We must adapt human sociology to the reality of what we are and to what we have created. We must begin to see ourselves as a common humanity.

Of course we will continue to recognize and celebrate human diversity. But I propose that that isn’t enough.

I propose that we must disrupt human nature and sociology by intentionally forming interactive communities with diversity. It’s no longer enough to gather as all Christians, all Muslims, all Jews, all Buddhists, all Hindus, or as the myriad of sects within each. It’s no longer enough to form groups around common interests and characteristics. I propose that we must give equal time to gathering with diversity as we do to gathering with those who are similar to us.

It’s clear that what we have been doing is not sufficient. If our races, nations, religions, or our gods do not motivate us to take this important next step, perhaps this little understood virus will.

Steve Slocum