Friday, July 29, 2011

Not so Different

Have you heard of the documentary called Babies, released last year? Directed by Thomas Balmes, Babies gives the viewer a look at the first year of four babies’ lives—four babies from very different places in the world (Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco).There isn’t much talking, just snippets of conversations and some baby-talk—no narration—but it’s fascinating.

Watching four babies in four completely different cultures grow in their first year is interesting and really cute. I thought, going into this movie, that I would see remarkable contrasts between the lives of four different babies from all around the world. I thought the movie was going to be all about how differently the cultures of the world have and raise their babies.

I was moved, however, as I saw inherent and somewhat unexpectedly obvious similarities between those babies.

The scene that impacted me the most was one in which the Mongolian baby started crying, and he sounded identical to Emmett crying. I could hardly believe my ears.

Mongolian baby

This got me wondering at how similar babies from all around the world really are. They need the same things, they make the same noises, they all babble “mama,” they love their pets, they are entertained by random objects (toys or things—doesn’t matter), their mothers care for them and love them. Babies in their pure, free-from-insecurities state-of-being, untainted by the pressures and the stresses of this world, are very much the same. If you removed the framework of society and culture from around them, babies are not so different.

We are not so different. People are not so different.

We love our family; we love our friends. We need food and water. We need the security of a roof over our heads to feel safe. We have pets. We find humour in life. We raise up the next generation in the best way we can. We seek fulfillment. We just want to be happy.

Just like those babies are so similar, we are similar. You and me and the next person. My grandfather and your neighbour and the people across the world. Those who have and don’t have, those who live a happy life and those who live in poverty…we are all brothers and sisters, and God is our Father.

As many as there are differences between one culture and another, there are similarities. And I think the similarities are more significant than the differences.

I wonder why, then, does it seem like the focus is always on our differences and what separates our culture from the next culture? Is it in the name of  fear or in the name of hate or in the name of separation...or in the name of diversity? 

If we could be aware of and focus on the similarities between the peoples of this world, then wouldn’t we be able to appreciate and respect our differences

And then wouldn’t we be able to celebrate our differences in a positive way instead of highlighting them and separating “us” from “them” using the divisive walls called “I’m Better Than You” or “I Don’t Understand You”?

I'm thankful to have watched Babies because it shed some light on the way I've perceived others, challenging me to rethink my perspective. I learned through watching Babies that that which on the surface may appear to be a marked contrast between race and culture actually served to represent a subtle, stunning comparison:

We are not so different; we are the same in many significant ways.


  1. Great post - made me think of the clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding - apples and oranges...

    :) OPA!

  2. Love it! I've been wanting to see this movie for a while now. This makes me want to see it even more!