There are 7.5 billion people in the world. That’s 75 followed by eight zeros. A billion is hard for the average mind to fathom. One billion is equivalent to a thousand millions. In other words, a really big number.
There are 7.5 billion of us living, eating and breathing here on planet earth. And although each of us is unique, we have one thing in common.
Each of us – without exception – began our journey in the same way. As newborn babies. Naked and afraid. Think about that. Let it sink in. Look around and embrace the concept.
90-year old grandfathers. Middle-aged women. 20-something men. Teenagers. Rock stars. Movie stars. Coal miners. Cab drivers. Computer scientists. Rocket scientists. The rich. The poor. Elite athletes. Good folks on the C-squad. You. Your neighbor. Your neighbor’s neighbor. Everyone. All. Of. Us.
We inhabit this planet and (so far) the only way to get here is by being a baby. It’s a major life experience shared by all 7.5 billion of us. Wow.
Every one of us was somebody’s itty bit of a newborn. (Although teenagers definitely do not want to be reminded of this fact.)
It’s likely someone waited for our arrival. A mother carried us and let her body be overcome by our girth. When space became tight we left the world we’d known for nine months to enter a new one.
We were all born helpless – completely dependent on others for our very survival. Crying was about all we had in our arsenal. We didn’t have enough muscle control to hold our own head up. We couldn’t roll over. We pooped our pants.
In the best scenarios we were cuddled by the grown-ups who loved us and smothered by big sisters or big brothers who just wanted a hug from the tiny baby. Some of us were the recipients of sloppy wet kisses from the dog or kneading paws from the cat.
Our mothers and fathers and caregivers changed our diapers and kept us clean. They fed us and made sure we were growing and meeting appropriate milestones. They interpreted our cries and knew which one meant we were hungry and which indicated a need for a nap. They got up in wee hours to tend to our needs and readjust our blankets. They held us and rocked us goodnight. But for their care, we would have died.
Each of us, without exception, was a newborn and totally dependent on others for our basic needs. We all come from humble beginnings.
We aren’t really cognizant of this. Of course we acknowledge the fact, but we aren’t aware of it on a regular basis. We see what we see in the here and now. That’s what makes us human. We perceive people as older than us, younger than us and sometimes about the same age as us. But we hardly ever look at an adult and think, “I bet he was a cute baby.”
We don’t see others the way they (and we) came into this world: naked, crying and a little bit messy. Maybe we should. In these times when everyone seems to focus on differences, maybe we should go back to the basics and realize there is at least one thing we have in common.
Maybe we should be more aware of how we all got our start in this world.
Not a perfect solution, but perhaps it’s a start.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.