Some think of people much as we think of cars on a highway: Each with its own origin and destination, relating to one another only to negotiate lane changes and left-hand turns. For cars, closeness is danger, loneliness is freedom.

People are not cars. Cars are dead. People live. Living beings need each other, nurture one another, share destinies and reach them together. When you're alive, closeness is warmth, loneliness is suffocating.

People belong to families. Families make up communities. Communities make up the many colorful peoples of the world. And all those peoples make up a single, magnificent body with a single soul called humankind.

Some chop this body into six billion fragments and roll it back into a single mush. They want each person to do his or her own thing and relate equally to every other individual on the planet. They don’t see the point of distinct peoples. They feel such distinctions just get in the way.

But we are not mush. We are leaves extending from twigs branching out from larger twigs on branches of larger branches until we reach the trunk and roots of us all. Each of us has our place on this tree of life, each our source of nurture—and on this tacit agreement the tree relies for its very survival.

None of us walks alone. Each carries the experiences of ancestors wherever he or she roams, along with their troubles, their traumas, their victories, their hopes and their aspirations. Our thoughts grow out from their thoughts, our destiny is shaped by their goals. At the highest peak we ever get to, there they are, holding our hand, pushing us upward, providing the shoulders on which we stand. And we share those shoulders, that consciousness, that heritage with all the brothers and sisters of our people.

That's why your own people are so important: If you want to find peace with any other person in the world, you’ve got to start with your own brothers and sisters. Until then, you haven't yet found peace within your own self. And only when you've found peace within your self can you help us find peace for the entire world.

Take my people—-the Jewish people. Every one of us is a brother or sister of a great family of many thousands of years. Where one of us walks, there walk sages and martyrs, heroes and heroines, legends and miracles, all the way back to Abraham and Sarah, the first two Jews who challenged the whole world with their ideals. There walk the tears, the blood and the chutzpah of millennia, the legacy of those who lived, yearned and died for a World To Come, a world the way it was meant to be.

Should I abandon them to join a homogenous mush? No one would benefit. For their destiny is my destiny. In them I am fulfilled, in each and every one of them and all of us together. And upon their oneness relies the oneness of the entire world.

Because my people is a vital organ of a single, magnificent body that breathes with a single set of lungs, pulsates with a single heart, draws from a single well of consciousness. As are the people of the Squamish Nation. And the Inuit. And the Swahili. And the Turks and the Persians and all of us.

If we try to do each other's job, we’re in a big mess. When we find our place in that grand whole and do all we can from there, then the world is healthy.