We’re All Connected

The English Channel from space (Image: YouTube)


By Rochelle Leon

My friend Les is one of the most spiritual people I know. He often says the phrase, “We are all one,” or “We’re all connected.” I think it’s even part of the permanent signature line at the bottom of his emails. Before, when I heard this axiom, whether from Les or anyone else, I’d think, “Sure, okay, we’re all connected, makes sense.”

My thoughts on the subject were sincere, but not exactly deep. I took it more at face value, like a universal, spiritual truth, but I never really knew what it meant. I hadn’t actually thought about the how or the why. The sheer vastness of it seemed too complex and I wasn’t able to actually process the logistics of these “connections.” Perhaps I just wasn’t Zen enough to get it?

Then, recently, I had a realization about how often we’re touched by events that have nothing to do with us personally, yet still affect us as if they did. It was in this moment that I started to understand this principle. I stopped looking at it as a theory and started feeling it as a belief. And I have to tell you, I really haven’t been the same since.

Now, I’m no expert (if you’d like one, I can refer you to Les), but I thought this new way of looking at this concept “we are all one” was worth sharing.

Okay, yes, we’re all connected! Another less spiritual, though still universal truth is that people LOVE sports analogies (and even though I know very little about sports) I’m going to attempt to use one now! Here goes…

When you tune in to watch a big game – lets say basketball for example – most people focus on the players, the score, perhaps the coaches or the crowd. Do you ever think about the fact that literally hundreds if not thousands of people all have had a hand in your experience? In enjoying this one, single game? Think about all the people involved… those who sold the tickets, built the stadium, literally stitched together the player’s sneakers… the sports agents who negotiated the athlete’s contracts, the factory workers who made the basketballs, the parents who encouraged their sons to work hard and play their best… the cameramen who film the game, the people who wash the uniforms… and on and on and on!

You wouldn’t think that any of these people are connected to you, right? But they are! The experience you’re having right at that moment is because of them, it’s a collective one not just a personal one! And that goes for EVERY experience you have ever had or will ever have, in your entire life! Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever you have; the food you eat, the music you hear, the car you drive, the water you drink – it all connects you to countless other people. Some whom you know incredibly well, some just indirectly, and most whom you have never met at all!

Think about your favorite movie and then actually watch the credits all the way through and read the list of hundreds of people who all worked tirelessly together to create it. Now think about all the other people in the world who love that film just as much as you do, who know all the lines word for word, just as you do. Think about your most beloved author or sports hero or musician whom you’ve never met, yet who has inspired you, influenced you, shaped your life in some way, all from a distance, without any knowledge at all of doing so.

Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world… enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space.” Imagine what he would think of our world today and how we can communicate with one another through television, film, the Internet, social media, cell phones, etc. The ways we can reach each other – it’s amazing!

Now take this line of thinking from this grander scale to a smaller, more personal one. For me, it makes me think about the person or people who sewed my wedding dress. The most beautiful, most meaningful garment I have ever worn and until this very moment, I have never paid any mind to the people who actually made it for me. I don’t even know who they are or even where they are. Not to mention the designer or the buyer for the store and on and on, all of who made my dream wedding dress a reality for me.

I also think about all the people who worked at the hospital on the days I gave birth to my children. I only remember the name of my obstetrician, not the names or faces of the nurses or the hospital staff, yet they were all integral in two of the most important experiences of my life.

When I went into labor with my first child, my water broke in the lobby of the hospital. Somebody cleaned that up!!! Did I even think about who that person was or to say thank you to them? Hopefully, I said thank you to all of the other people that I interacted with that day. So many people helped me to safely give birth to my two beautiful, healthy children and I am so humbled by that gift, and by all the people – most of whom are complete strangers to me – who helped give that to me.

It’s almost staggering when we start looking at life this way. When we start realizing that we are all part of each other’s experiences, that all of our lives are interwoven together in countless ways we can’t even begin to fathom. The gratitude and the sense of responsibility become overwhelming. And that awe grows even further when we think of how many of these people we never actually meet or see or even know who they are or even what their exact contribution is, but it exists and is powerful just the same!

Now, on top of all of that, think about the ways we connect that we don’t even fully understand. The invisible, unseen, eerie connections, the kind that give us all goose bumps and freak-you-out more than just a little bit when they catch you by surprise. Like, when you think of someone you haven’t seen in years and then out-of-the-blue you run into them the next day at the market. When you think to yourself that you’ve got to call your sister and then the phone rings at that exact moment and it’s her! When you meet someone for the first time and you feel a remarkable and inexplicable bond with them, like you’ve known them for years when you’ve only just met! These kinds of connections are real and powerful, even if completely illogical, which is why they send chills throughout our whole bodies when we feel them.

Our planet is billions of years old and yet we are all here at the same time, together, inexorably linked. That has got to mean something inherently meaningful! It makes you realize we’ve all got to be so much more aware, deliberate, and purposeful in our actions, reactions and interactions because everything we do and say has profound, far-reaching, rippling effects, casting far out into the Universe! As President Lincoln put it, throughout “time and space.”

So then, we are all in a constant state of either doing good or causing damage. Our consciousness of it makes no difference, it’s happening either way. It’s happening right now. Thus, we are all tasked with a huge responsibility, not only to ourselves, but to everyone and everything on this planet, including those who came before us and those who will be here long after us. If we can do this, if we can recognize this connection… well, just imagine the results! What a better place the world would be! And why not make the world a better place, since we’re all in it, together.

Rochelle Leon

Rochelle Leon is a writer, wife and mom. She formerly owned a greeting card company and is currently working on a novel. Rochelle has a passion for compassion and believes in a brighter future where everyone is a little kinder to one another. She lives in Southern California with her family.

compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, RECK, respect, Uncategorized

We Need a Revolution of Connection

Do you ever feel a longing for connection? Real connection? More than another text or email, or even another casual conversation? In our fast-paced, screen-time-heavy world, it seems like we are drifting further and further apart from one another.

This is not to say that we have ever been that socially connected in my lifetime. A child of the 80’s, I feel like I was practically raised by the television – long before smart phones came along demanding our attention.

Perhaps there was a time when communities were closer knit, but it hasn’t been in my lifetime. Essentially, I find myself longing for some Utopian past I never knew. Or perhaps it never really existed to begin with. Who knows.

But here’s the thing. It sure does seem like we could reduce the amount of conflict in the world if people would just sit down and talk to one another. How are we ever going to work out our differences if we keep splitting ourselves into smaller and smaller factions?

We need a revolution of connection! Meaningful connection – deep conversations where we work through our misunderstandings and disagreements. This is the kind of connection where trust is built and where genuine community takes shape.

Our fast-paced, cold, indifferent world needs reflection on connection, a Renaissance of nuance, and a renewed unity of community!

And of course I feel compelled to add that as we undergo this revolution of connection, we must strive to treat one another with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. Honestly, I find these qualities lacking in our modern world as well. We are all perfectly capable of treating one another better, but it takes self control and a determination of will. It begins with us wanting to do better.

So, find ways to connect with others in a meaningful way. Unplug. Get real face-to-face time with others. Schedule unstructured time with your family with no screens and lots of conversation. Go out for lunch and coffee with friends. Make time for connection.

Join a church, social organization or bowling league. Heck, join a group you disagree with and work towards changing them from the inside. Just get out there!

Real connection takes real effort, and it is worth it. It pays big dividends with regard to improved mental and emotional health.

So, answer your inner call – your yearning – for connection. Let the revolution begin! And you’ll be glad you did.

Love to you, always.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

compassion, empathy, kindness, RECK, respect

Do You See All People As Equal?

I grew up in a small Middle American town and it seemed like there was always a lot of emphasis placed on social hierarchy. There was a lot of discussion about who was from “good” families and who was from “bad” families. People also seemed to struggle to elevate their station within that social structure. It seemed like people compared themselves to one another a lot. There was a great deal of concern about who was better than whom and why. People were ranked by the size of their homes, the clothes they wore, the type of car they drove, and on and on and on.

After college, I moved to larger cities. There seemed to be less of this – at least among my twenty-something friends. But it still existed based upon people’s ages and what types of jobs they had, clothes, cars, etc. It still existed within me, too. I found myself constantly comparing myself to others. Constantly wanting to do better, to be more, to “make something of myself.”

As I’ve gotten older – I’m in my mid-forties now, I’ve worked hard to shake off these types of feelings about myself and others. Now, I tend to gravitate towards or away from people based more on how strong of a connection I feel with them. I make an effort to decide whether or not I want to spend time with another person based upon the content of their character. I make a conscious effort to view all people as equal, despite all of the traditional markers I once thought I was supposed to use to measure people.

Recently, I started an interesting experiment. All day, every day, whenever I interacted with anyone I would say to myself “equal” as I looked at them. I would even picture the word EQUAL above their head. The results of my little experiment surprised me. I discovered that this practice caused me to slow down and take a deeper concern in people. Now, the server at the restaurant was not simply someone there to take my order and bring my food, but a whole person just like me who was equal to me in every way. They might be having a good day or a bad day. They have a full compliment of feelings and concerns, just like me. They are equal to me.

I found that the practice caused me to take more interest in people. I tended to engage them in more meaningful conversations. I wanted to get to know them a little bit, even if our time together was only temporary and maybe only to provide a service. My interactions were different. More thoughtful. deeper. More human.

Seeing people as equal to me has also been good for me in situations where the social hierarchy would place the other person above me. For example, with my boss or with respected members of the community. I’ve often found myself more at ease with them. I’m more apt to make a joke or tell a story. Again, to just be human with them.

This has been a healthy experiment. Letting go of social conventions and making an effort to see everyone as equal has not been the blow to my self esteem that I thought it might be. On the contrary, I have found that seeing everyone as equal has been healthy for my self esteem. If everyone is equal then I’m as good as anyone else. If everyone is equal then I can have more concern for everyone regardless of their class and when I care more about others I feel better about myself.

Do you view all people as equal to you? Do you view yourself as equal to all people? Maybe try my experiment and see how it changes the way you move through the world. Picture the word EQUAL hovering just above everyone’s heads and reflect upon how that changes the way you view them. Do it with everyone… the large person, the small person, the old person, the young person, and people of every skin color and style of dress. Everyone.

What if there was no social hierarchy? What if we all abandoned stacking ourselves up against one another? What if we truly treated all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness? All people treating all people that way. It might truly transform the world.

Peace and good wishes to you always.



Why We Should Respect All People

I’m a big advocate for respecting all people all of the time. As such, I am often talking about respect and posting to social media about it. The other day I had someone come back at me with, “Respect must be earned. I don’t believe that we should respect anyone ‘just because.'” It wasn’t the first time I had heard this. Since becoming an advocate for respecting all people I have heard that criticism in some form multiple times. And I believe it’s a fair criticism. To be completely honest, I also don’t believe we should respect anyone “just because.”

Still, I believe we should respect all people. All of the time. And I believe we should do it for several reasons. Here are my top three…

First and foremost, I believe that respect is something we all desire. No matter who we are or what our station in life might be, we all long to be respected. Why? I think it has to do with one of our most basic needs – the need to believe that we have the right to exist; that we have inherent worth. And I believe that all people truly do have inherent worth. We all have value. Life is precious and simply by being alive we matter. And for that reason we deserve respect.

Second, I believe that being respectful towards everyone helps to create a more civil society. Think about it. When we treat people respectfully we treat them with some dignity. We do not scorn them or scream at them. We speak to them. We reason with them. Respect matters. And it matters because respecting everyone helps to create a society where we treat one another as equals. By respecting others we are saying to them, “You matter enough to me for me to give you my attention, my patience, and my words in a kind and articulate way.” Respect matters, because it helps to build the kind of world we want to live in.

Finally, giving everyone at least some basic level of respect helps to preserve the sanctity of life. In order for me to remain confident that I want to treat all people with respect, all I need to do is reflect upon what a world without respect looks like. Lack of respect leads to negative human interactions such as prejudice, sexism, racism, and more. Disrespect on a large enough scale can be seen to contribute to horrors like genocide and racial cleansing. During the 20th century, eugenics took root from a disrespect for certain types of human beings. Disrespect is destructive. Respect must be maintained in order for the sanctity of life to be maintained.

So there it is. Three succinct reasons to respect all people all of the time, which add up to a whole lot more than “just because.” Here’s that same list in an even shorter form:

  1. Respect affirms everyone’s inherent worth.
  2. Respect helps to create a more civil society.
  3. Respect helps to preserve the sanctity of life.

So, keep on respecting. Spread respect far and wide. Have respect for all and encourage your children and grandchildren (if you have them) to respect everyone. Help others learn from your example. Respect matters. Respect makes a difference. Respect is the foundation upon which strong relationships can be built. Keep striving. Together we can build a brighter future.

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion