“We are the world” became famous with a song some time back, but the actual phrase goes back much further and contains the essence of every true religion and every great revolution.
The theologian Paul Tillich expressed the insight this way: “The most intimate motions within the depths of our souls are not completely our own, for they belong also to our friends, to humankind, to the universe, and the Ground…… of all being, the aim of our life.”
Each wave of the ocean is an individual in one sense, but is also a wave of something more basic. In the same way, every individual expresses something unique, and something universal. This is why the deeper we go inside ourselves, the more we discover a mysterious sense of otherness. The more we care about others, the more their happiness comes to enrich our own. Beneath our thoughts, is an animal. Beneath the animal is the web of interconnected life. Beneath that web is one planet, home to us all.
“We are the world” expresses the truth behind the Christian Pentecost, the Jewish “tikkun olam”, as well as the true thrust behind Marx’s socialism. The “red” of communism represented our one human blood. The failure of past revolutions and religions has been, in part, a failure to realize one of the most profound insights to which a human may aspire. Whether the problem is economic, political or religious, the solution to the basic disagreements of humankind begins with the insight, “We are the world.”