No, I did not spend my entire weekend watching cheesy science fiction movies from the 1950’s! Although there is a lot to be said for classics like “Angry Red Planet” and “Zombies of the Stratosphere.” The plots were always intriguing and the acting was consistently Oscar quality. The special effects were unparalleled and the costuming impeccable.
Setting aside my steady dose of sarcasm; there was one element of these classic films that always held special appeal for me. If the aliens were not hell-bent on obliterating the human race; they were instead trying to save us from ourselves. They always had some quaint greeting for the mere humans that they encountered. It came in one of two special forms; carefully chosen words or a universal gesture of love and peace. In the 1960’s, this concept evolved into both word and gesture. Picture Mister Spock parting his four fingers and uttering, “Live long and prosper!”
As a blogger, I have been fortunate to gain a dedicated audience of over 2,500 regular readers. These individuals come from over 40 countries around the world. Every now and then I will receive a response to one of my posts that really hits home. Recently, a young Hindu woman commented on one of my posts. She ended her brief note of appreciation with the word “Namaste.” There are two commonly accepted meanings for this powerful word. “The spirit in me respects the spirit in you” is one interpretation. The second is “The Divinity in me bows to the Divinity in you!” Either choice is simply beautiful!
My newfound Hindu friend had taken note of a comment left by a gentleman from the Arab world. She wanted to reach out to him and asked me if I knew of an appropriate Arabic greeting to use. Having conducted a fair amount of business in that part of the world; I was happy to be of assistance. I suggested the use of “As-salaam ‘alaykum’ which would be responded to with the words “Wa ‘alaykum salaam.” Respectively, the two phrases mean “Peace be upon you” and “Upon you be peace.”
As I sent my response, I pondered the possibility of a universal greeting that could be used by all of the Earth’s people. It had to be a phrase that transcended the over 3,000 languages and dialects that are currently in use. The greeting and response had to hold meaning for the nearly seven billion individuals living on the planet. Two thirds of the world identifies with one of three religious groupings, but they are so diverse that I could not side with one over the other. The growing puzzle was now nagging at me.
The dilemma continued to eat away at me as my head hit the pillow. It was not long before I drifted off into a deep sleep; my mind invaded by dreams where writers are more highly revered than professional athletes. Did I also mention better paid? In the morning, I awoke with a clear answer to the prior night’s challenge.
Picture two individuals from different parts of the world. They do not share a common language, they come from opposite ethnicities, and they are from distinctly different religious backgrounds. Both people look into one another’s eyes, their right hands rise and they place their palms over their hearts. Never losing eye contact, they bow slightly to one another and smiles cross their faces.
This simple universal greeting transcends all that makes us different from one another! It allows us to connect with each other in a profound manner. It puts each and every one of us on equal footing. As an author and blogger, the following statement goes against everything I have previously believed. Sometimes one gesture is more powerful than a thousand words!