Our friends in Japan

Our friends, family, and colleagues in Japan are much on my mind these days.  I worry about and for them – as do so many other people on the planet.

Underlying this type thing, underneath this pledge to make constructive use of differences, underneath this honoring of different typological ways of being in the world – underneath all of these is a key that makes it all work. The key is in remembering what we fundamentally share - our humanity.

In learning and teaching about type, we often start from the point of valuing differences – that it’s important to approach people and relationships from the perspective of honoring different ways of viewing and being in the world. This is true of course – people are indeed different. But the reason this approach to differences can potentially work is because of an often unspoken recognition. It is the recognition that, though people may think differently and behave differently, at some basic level we are more alike than we are different. We share in a common experience.

Yes, people show caring for family in different ways – but people everywhere care for their families. People may have different ideas about what it means to “do something well," but people everywhere want to feel successful and know that they’ve done a good job.

And people everywhere have losses. And feel sad or adrift in the chaos of those losses. And people everywhere want to have a measure of security, stability, safety, family, and community.  And people everywhere want to help and support others. And people who are victims of a tragedy will over and over again rise heroically to reconnect and rebuild.

Learning about type is – in one way – as much or more a path about recognizing and remembering our common humanity. And about honoring all the different forms that our underlying humanity can take. Paradoxically then, although type is about respecting differences, this insight can and must rest in the larger recognition of something universal that we share. It is this underlying shared ground of our humanity that allows us to appreciate differences.

And so as I worry about our friends in Japan, it is in times like this that I am reminded of what we share. And how quickly things can change in our lives. Let all of us hold them in our hearts and in our minds and reach out to them in whatever ways we are able.


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