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Revealing: the way you can make a difference

This entry is part 26 of 33 in the series 99: a journey
A head-and-shoulders picture of Andrew Chirch with water in the background

I’m Andrew Chirch, an Interfaith advisor and coach. 99 is a special weekly podcast series where we meet for 9 minutes to regroup, re-center ourselves, and prepare for the work ahead.

Subscribe here to listen on your favorite podcast app, or you can use the player at the top of this post. A transcript is below.

Here’s a little musical promo.

Have you ever heard the saying that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

There may be some truth there. But I want to take it to another level.

This week’s topic is Unity. How everything there is in the universe is contained in you. In the scripture from Abrahamic religions like Christianity, one of the creation stories says as much… humans were created from the dust.  (that’s right, I said one of them. There are actually a few)

One of my favorite scientists, Carl Sagan, was famous for saying, “you are made of star stuff” – meaning that we evolved from the same elements that have been here since the big bang…

In a scientific sense, when humans first went to space and looked back at the blue-green ball of earth floating there -that was the first time that earth saw herself. I don’t know about you but I got chills the first time I heard that. Earth… sees herself for the first time.

In Buddhism, there is a koan -, “on the tips of ten thousand grasses, each and every morning dewdrop contains the light of the moon that IS the moon.”

I’m no quantum physicist, but I’ve been told that matter and energy are one and the same. In this way, if the light of the moon is refracted through a dewdrop, then in a way, the moon *really is*  there – in all of the dewdrops.

Unity. Everything in everything.

That sounds fun and all, but that means that everything is in me too, no? Wait – it’s a big world out there…. there are some great, amazing things going on… but there’s some really crazy, scary stuff too. Does that mean the great stuff is in me? And the crazy, scary stuff is too?


One of our great struggles as humans is how tribal we are. We were born to be in relationship with each other… we need to belong. Now if we’re in a group small enough to know each person – I’ve heard anthropologists say ten or twelve up to maybe a few dozen, then things work pretty simply. But as there are more and more of us, we just can’t know everyone, so we start to use labels to help us sort and divide people into groups… in our tribal minds, there needs to be an US…. Our tribe…. You know… the GOOD ones.

For there to be an US, what do we need? ..That’s right…. a THEM.

Now in my small family group, there are still disagreements… I mean, Aunt Belinda is a little irritating, but that’s just her nature… she always likes to be difficult. It’s okay though. She’s family.

What happens, though, with all the Aunt Belindas who are NOT in our group? Does that mean that they’re worse people? What if Aunt Belinda sleeps in a doorway on a piece of cardboard and yells when there’s nobody around?

I’m in Boston as I write this, staying in a comfortable hotel… it’s the kind of place that “my people” stay. On the way here, I came into close proximity with lots of those other people…Hanging out in alleys, or sleeping on the sidewalk grate that had warm blue-green out.

I don’t know about you, but I get uncomfortable around that. I try to cross the street or slip past her without getting pulled in because, well, she’s one of blue-green…. not one of US.


My Dad likes to say that there IS no THEM.

There is only US.

In spite of my attempts to label the bad-smelling guy on the sidewalk so I can convince myself – “that isn’t me”

It IS me.

The guy on the sidewalk grate is tired and doesn’t like to be cold.

Neither do I.

I just get to turn up the thermostat in this hotel room.


Now, did I go invite the folks outside into my warm hotel room? No.

You see, I’m part of the problem just as much as anyone.


We are all made of star stuff. We come from the same place.


Yet we work hard all our lives to find our tribe and differentiate ourselves from the rest.

What if we realized that the things we hate the most about others are right there inside ourselves?

What if we realized that the things we love about others – are right there inside of us too?

How about you and I set a goal of seeing another person this week. Like, some total stranger—really seeing them so they know we did?

That seems like a good place to start.

I see you, my friend with all your hopes and all your struggles. I see you.

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