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We are a pretty toxic bunch sometimes, us humans.
Self-righteous, narcissistic and judgmental. And that’s not even to mention the other stuff – the war, the genocide, and the destruction of an entire planet’s ecosystem.
Social media is a virtual space, mercifully, so it’s hard to practise genocide there. But we tend to indulge our basest instincts on there sometimes – in the service of personal brand building, or some pure, unrealistic idealism that does as much harm as good.
But once in a while, something happens that redeems us, and we come together in the spirit of positivity, mutual upliftment and supporting each other’s humanity.
That happened recently in the Case of the Two Bowls. In many ways, the situation has restored my love for human beings.
A lady named Chi Nguyen was drying her dishes, when she placed a small ceramic bowl inside a slightly bigger one, and they became stuck. She tried several methods, but was unable to remove the smaller bowl. After two days, unwilling to sacrifice either of these perfectly good bowls, she turned to social media.
“I need your help,” she tweeted from her account @whatchidid. “I stacked a ceramic bowl into another one while doing dishes and now they are stuck. How do you remove the smaller bowl without breaking both of them?”
Twitter, I need your help. I stacked a ceramic bowl into another one while doing dishes and now they are stuck. How do you remove the smaller bowl without breaking both of them?Why am I so invested? I’ve tried to fix this for 2 days, and I cannot give up now. pic.twitter.com/ONfuw7L9dH— Chi Nguyễn (@whatchidid) June 6, 2022
At that point, she had tried things like soap, oil, ice and lubricating spray, to no avail. But the humans of the internet flew to her aid! Over the 24 hours, her post received 16,000 likes and hundreds of comments from genuinely interested people trying to help.
Had she tried twisting the bowls? The dishwasher? Leaving the bowls upside down overnight? What about an autoclave!
The suggestions flew in, as Twitter came to lend assistance. Perhaps an electric toothbrush might help. Or a small plunger. Or compassionately, but firmly throwing the bowls into a pillow.
On the morning of June 9, three full days after the beginning of the debacle, the bowls became unstuck! The smaller bowl had sustained a small chip along the way, but was otherwise unscathed. The solution turned out to be a mysterious strategy involving a toddler, a suction cup and banging the bowls on a carpet quite hard.
OMG WE DID IT!Last 20 hours:– upside down, on a towel, undisturbed– gave to toddler (clear mandate that bowls must stay together)– suction cup– small bowl asks to not give up on it now– banged on carpetUNSTUCK!!!! pic.twitter.com/zllvidh07H— Chi Nguyễn (@whatchidid) June 8, 2022
I’ve read that solution through a few times, and I still battle to understand what Chi Nguyen and her family did to unstick their bowls, but I am thrilled for them. I am also thrilled for my people. My faith in the empathetic nature of man- and womankind has been reinvigorated.
We are not so bad after all. We do care about each other. All we really need is an opportunity to show it. Given that opportunity, we embrace it, like the loving, angelic beings we are.
It makes me speculate that perhaps there is hope for us. Perhaps, despite all evidence to the contrary, humanity is evolving for the better.
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Perhaps the avalanche of bad news that confronts us daily is proof that violence and exploitation are not acceptable. They are remarkable and newsworthy, specifically because they go against our deeper instincts.
The wars in Tigray, in Ukraine, in Yemen. They are bloody, horrific and evil precisely because they are an aberration. This is not they way we are destined to live. We were born to live in peace.
Overconsumption, plastic-pollution and climate change? These are emerging as the obscenities of our time, condemned at every turn, because we know our true purpose is to live in harmony with nature.
Once, war was our only way of conducting our politics and doing business. Might, power and violence were our only currency. Consumption was about taking and consuming all that we were able to access.
But somewhere, deep inside us, we are compassionate, nurturing and loving beings. And perhaps the experiment of humanity has been about moving towards a fuller expression of that, despite the temptation to pillage and destroy.
I like to believe that slowly, incrementally we are moving towards the way of oneness, co-operation and support. One separated pair of ceramic bowls at a time.
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