The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Let’s say you are walking down the street and notice somebody experiencing homelessness. They are holding up a sign asking for help. You feel bad for them and your heart hurts. But you can’t help listening to that small voice in your head that says “This person must have done something wrong to end up in this situation.” You walk away without doing anything.
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One could argue that in this scenario, you are looking at this situation through an independent mindset. You believe that each person carries responsibility for their own life, and that their struggle, while upsetting, isn’t directly related to you.
Now, let’s look at the situation through another point of view –– one that Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” calls a win-win mindset: Aside from the fact that you feel bad for them and want to help, your mind also considers the situation in a broader context. You as yourself: “How does this person’s struggle affect the rest of my community?”
You start to consider the fact that because this person is sitting on the street, there’s a chance that they could get injured or sick, which would cause them to go to the hospital. Now, because they likely don’t have insurance, a significant amount of financial sacrifice is going to have to come from the community to get them treatment.
You also consider that because this person lives on the street, their ability to contribute to the growth of our society is limited. Every person has something unique that they can offer the world. But, given their situation, we cannot fully benefit from their potential contribution –– such as a talent or skill that could potentially solve problems, big or small.
By seeing everyone in society as interconnected rather than independent, we allow our minds to open up to new considerations.
We will never know because, for some reason, humans have ingrained this idea in our heads that we are all independent. By seeing everyone in society as interconnected rather than independent, we allow our minds to open up to new considerations.
The Baha’i writings explain this concept beautifully as well. Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the founder and prophet of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, dedicated his life to helping the poor and the needy. In his writings, he explained this lack of reciprocity in society: “Although the body politic is one family yet because of lack of harmonious relations some members are comfortable and some in direst misery, some members are satisfied and some are hungry, some members are clothed in most costly garments and some families are in need of food and shelter. Why? Because this family lacks the necessary reciprocity and symmetry…. Such utter indifference in the human family is due.. to lack of a working law, to lack of kindness in its midst. If kindness had been shown to the members of this family surely all the members thereof would have enjoyed comfort and happiness.”
Thinking that each of us is independent the others can be toxic. It gives us an excuse to not think about each other’s feelings or well-being. We must take a step back and remember that we are all members of one race: the human race. We have to find love for our humanity and allow it to bring us together.
RELATED: Answering the Cry of the Needy
If we have learned anything from the immense challenges that the year 2020 has presented to our world, it is that our tenaciousness is best when it is paired with kindness. We can have the audacity to believe Baha’u’llah’s statement that “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
Adopting a win-win mindset could be extremely beneficial to our society, and not just in the example I presented. Now just imagine if we did that all day in all of our interactions!