Imagine life as involving a series of concentric circles representing your spheres of action and involvement. At the center is the inner and outer you. The next circle out is your family - both of birth and of choice - along with your closest friendships. The next circle yet is your neighborhood and your workplace. The next one out is your overall community. Then there is your state, or province, your nation, and the broader world, and perhaps even more.
Each circle, starting with the first, is to be tended to, nurtured, and grown in a healthy way, and is to be helpfully open to the next larger circles to come. We're never to get stuck in ego, or just in a family, or a neighborhood, or in a nation, in our sense of self identity and affiliation and value. As the ancient philosopher Diogenes once said, "I am a citizen of the world." Healthy self identity, and healthy affiliation at each level, is open to, and allows for, greater affiliations as well. Then, those come back and enhance the inner circles they encompass.
We're never to be stuck in any form of narrow thought that cuts us off from others. One of the biggest mistakes seen around the world is exactly that - an exclusivity of allegiance that turns others into threats and enemies. But, as my friend Vinod put it in a conversation we just had in the gym, "There are places where Sunnis work with Shiites in harmony and with shared purposes. This is how it should be." International business wants to bring the world together. International rivalries and exclusivist tribalisms want to pull the world apart. We can never fully flourish without being, in turn, tolerant, open, appreciative, and even celebratory of our differences. Tolerance is never enough, though it's the logical place to start, and hard enough for many people. But it's meant to be a door into a more positive understanding and appreciation, and even appropriation. We all have insights. And we all have errors. We can learn from each other. And we need to, in order for things to go well.
But of course, when we speak of being tolerant, open, appreciative, and even celebratory of others, we don't mean that we should ever embrace what strikes our most enlightened moral sensibilities as just wrong or unjust. What we're to learn from each other should never take us to a worse place, only to a better stage in our own understanding and sensibilities.
I hope you'll go through the day with an enhanced appreciation of all your concentric circles. You are a citizen of the world.