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We Are All One

Dear Readers, it has been a hiatus of many months since I posted a blog of my own on this site. After spending a lot of time soul searching and listening to words of encouragement from my wife and close friends, I have decided to return to my blogging roots and resurrect the series of blogs I called “My Inspiration.”

Today’s post focuses on the inspirational words of Maya Angelou who was one of America’s most influential people and continues to move us to search our hearts with her immortal words.

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”

Maya Angelou

The element of Maya Angelou’s writings that always strikes me is her innate humility. In the first line, “it seems to me” she makes it clear that all she wants to do is share personal thoughts instead of preaching a truth that we must accept. Immediately, my mind opens wide to what follows and I read on in anticipation. This gives me pause. Do I invite people to share in my thinking or am I sounding more like the booming gong and clanging cymbal in St. Paul’s epistle about love?

In her next breath, Ms Angelou encourages us to prepare ourselves to be “a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Many of us, I think, associate preparedness for a test or for success that benefits us in some way. How often are we asked to prepare ourselves in order to serve others? She makes it very clear that we should be a source of brightness and joy in the life of another person who is in the shadow of some personal trouble.

As I turn that idea over in my mind, I wonder how one prepares for that kind of service. Cultivating a point of view that looks outward beyond my own wants and needs towards others would be a good start. I need to develop genuine empathy so that I can recognize another’s need. As well, I need to shed any negativity about life that I’ve accumulated along my own journey, and be a hopeful person who looks for the goodness in others.

This kind of personal growth is no small task, in my view! Perhaps for some, being a beacon of light for others is as simple as rolling out of bed in the morning. Regardless, I agree with Maya Angelou that every human being should strive to serve with no expectation of reward from the world around us. From my own experience, the times when I have helped someone to smile, the warm inner glow I felt was reward enough.

In the last few lines, Angelou addresses the things that divide humans: race, gender, religion, and culture among other things. For her, our shared humanity is paramount. There is nothing more important than reaching out to all persons we contact, not just the ones who share the same identifiers with ourselves.

I remember reading an article that discussed the traits that are shared in common by all humans. As I read about our shared physicality, physical needs, psychological needs which drive us, and our common spiritual yearnings, I was struck by the triviality of the things that we allow to divide us. The resulting intolerance and fear of our noticeable differences precipitate conflict and warfare among us.

I believe that Maya Angelou was a visionary. She saw and experienced great ugliness in her life yet chose to live a better way. This realization on my part leads me to better appreciate our freedom to choose. We can decide for ourselves to serve others or be selfish. Do we choose to dwell on the ugliness in this world or to live joyfully in gratitude for the beauty in our world and within every human being?

Thank you, Maya Angelou. I’d also like to thank my good friend, Jill Dennison, who blogs each week at Filosofa’s Word about people who have chosen to follow the path made clear in this quote and reach out with kindness to strangers in need who are in their midst. Thanks, Jill, for these uplifting examples of how ordinary folks can work miracles in the lives of others!

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

50 thoughts on “We Are All One”

  1. John, this is a truly beautiful reflection. You have a lovely way of expressing complex topics in succinct, powerful ways. I’m elated that you’ll be writing more. We need you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Gwen, for your uplifting remarks – heaven knows that I’ve needed uplifting this past month.

      Like

  2. Hello John,

    New here on your blog, but have followed to experience more.
    Beautiful post, and words to live by. I love that mental image of putting rainbows in other people’s clouds. I don’t do enough of that, and am perhaps guilty of the opposite. Hiding sunshine and rainbows with the clouds of perceived doom. Certainly, we all need a bit more of the spectrum of filtered sunshine to see truths hidden away from view. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Collette! Thanks for following and for your comment. I’m afraid it is all too easy to get caught up in this world’s negativity. I fall into that trap way too often. Even though we often fail to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud, we need to forgive ourselves and stay in the game, seek out truths new to us and be beacons of hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Colette can say negative things about herself, but don’t believe her. She works hard to make this world a little better, way harder than me. I am a thinker, she is a doer. I talk, she makes things happen. I appreciate her more than she will ever know.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. You can drop my name, now John, lol. I seldom use it, most everyone knows me as rawgod or rg, and that is how I like it. Jerry is a conceited, arrogant egoist. rawgod is a spiritual being. I much prefer being rawgod.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, John. You, and Maya of course, have hit on something I have been figuring out for the past 20 years, that preaching gets us nowhere, in my opinion. This is where it gets tricky, though. It is easy to say, “Don’t tell, suggest,” but saying that comes out as telling. My favourite is “Don’t teach, model!” but it still comes out as a command. I no longer want to change the world, but I do want to show people how it is possible to live. Yet this is not easy to do. In our society, where we are “taught” things from early after we are born, we are not given the opportunity to learn for ourselves. Our formative years are filled with the words, “Do,” and “Don’t!” How many times do little kids ask “Why?” and get told “Because…” In my opinion this teaches us to be bullies, because we are being bullied. And what is done to us, so often we do that to others, especially our own children… for their own good. But really it is for our own good in the end.

    There was another point I wanted to make, but maybe later. This one has grown too long. At any rate, welcome back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to see you here, rawgod! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I hear you about expressing our thoughts/opinions and sounding preachy. We can do our level best to avoid that, but we cannot control how others perceive us and our words – especially the written word. In face-to-face conversations, one’s facial expression, body language and tone will often be better clues about our intent.

      Parenting is a very tricky job and the only training any of us ever get is from our own parents. Hopefully, each new generation will develop better parenting skills and strategies. I agree, sometimes our answers to children’s questions are self-serving. I know that I have made lots of mistakes with my own kids but I hope they know that I cared about their well-being and loved them.

      By the way, when I write these reflections, I hope to stimulate some discussion, so please feel free to share your thoughts, rawgod. Hope all is well with you.

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      1. Discussion is good. Stimulating, even. I really don’t know how many people read other people’s comments, but I like to make comments on blog posts that further a discussion, even if only between me and the blogger. But the more who partake, the merrier.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well said, Jerry. So often people suggest ideas that I had not thought about. It is an opportunity for growth.

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  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Good friend and blogging buddy John Fioravanti has been on hiatus from blogging for a while, took some time off to do a bit of soul-searching. Yesterday he made a comeback with a beautiful post based on the words and wisdom of Maya Angelou. The world is so divided today, filled with hatred and intolerance more than at any time in our lifetimes, but Maya’s words should serve as an inspiration to all of us – a message that love and caring for others can overcome the hatred. A reminder that we are all the same – human beings – and that what we have in common is far greater than the superficial differences. Please take a moment to read John’s beautiful post, and to welcome him back to ‘blogger-dom’! Thanks John, for this lovely post and we’re happy to have you back!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful post, John! You couldn’t have picked a better person than Maya to kick off your comeback!
    It’s so good to see you back in the saddle!!! We have missed you! And thanks for the mention … the ‘good people’ posts are the highlight of my week. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jill. Maya Angelou is my favourite, so I went looking for one of her quotes immediately. Knowing a bit about her life gives her words greater impact. I’m happy you stopped by, good friend! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello, John! Reading your post, the tremendous words of Maya Angelou are inspiring and soul searching. She finds a way to make us feel good, yet to search for doing more and greater understanding. I have her “People will forget…” quote mounted. I absolutely loved this post. You wrote it beautifully!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jennie – Maya Angelou is one of my favourites. I would have loved to have the opportunity to sit and chat with her and just drink in her wisdom! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog, Opher! I smiled when I read your comment… she deals with several of my shortcomings!

      Like

  7. Hi John – good to have you back!
    Maya is amazing and you have put your finger on something I do very badly – and given me the impetus to attempt to always bear that in mind when writing!! Thank you! I will endeavour not to be so dogmatic!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Opher – it is good to be back in the saddle. I find that writing these “My Inspiration” reflections gives me an opportunity to examine my conscience and acknowledge the work I need to do in order to live up to the expectations set forth in these quotes. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

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