Sherwin Nuland On Universality

Sherwin NulandSherwin Nuland (December 8, 1930 – March 3, 2014)

The more personal you are willing to be and the more intimate you are willing to be about the details of your own life, the more universal you are… And when I say universal, I don’t mean universal only within our culture… There’s a lot of balderdash thrown around – “You don’t understand people who live in Sri Lanka and their response to the tsunami because you just don’t know that culture.”

Well, there’s an element of that – but, to me, cultural differences are a kind of patina over the deepest psychosexual feelings that we have, that all human beings share.

When you recognize that pain – and response to pain – is a universal thing, it helps explain so many things about others, just as it explains so much about yourself. It teaches you forbearance. It teaches you a moderation in your responses to other people’s behavior. It teaches you a sort of understanding. It essentially tells you what everybody needs. You know what everybody needs? You want to put it in a single word?

Everybody needs to be understood. And out of that comes every form of love.