The Twin Towers (in Kuala Lumpur)

The Petronas Towers - the "Twin Towers" of Kuala Lumpur.

The Petronas Towers – the “Twin Towers” of Kuala Lumpur.

When I went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia a few years ago, I had no idea they had twin towers, too. Of course, from my American standpoint, there had been only one set of twin towers, the towers made famous by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Little did I know that when in Kuala Lumpur, if I used the term “twin towers,” they would immediately think not of the World Trade Center in New York City, but the Petronas Towers (the “Menara Berkembar Petronas” in the Malaysian language). From 1998 until 2004, they were the tallest buildings in the world.

As I moved about the plaza below the Petronas Towers, taking the photographs from which I excerpted the ones here, one of my Malaysian friends asked me if I’d see the movie “Entrapment,” which had starred Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I confessed that I hadn’t seen the movie. He said that he and all of his friends had seen it. “After all,” he said proudly, “It featured the Petronas Towers.”

The PR poster for the 1999 movie, "Entrapment."

The PR poster for the 1999 movie, “Entrapment.”

Well, I still haven’t seen the movie, and from the reviews I’ve read, despite the stellar co-stars, it isn’t really that remarkable as far as plots go. But in Kuala Lumpur, they were proud to be featured. I hadn’t noticed it in the United States. They’d noticed it big time in Kuala Lumpur. I haven’t found many people I know who HAVE seen the movie in the United States. Just about every Malaysian I talked to in Kuala Lumpur HAD seen the movie.

It depends upon what you’re connected to, really. For so many people on this continent, “Entrapment” was just another thriller, featuring exotic places, action, seduction, and people falling from great heights. Like so many other movies. Big deal.

But in Kuala Lumpur, where people see those towers every day, they were proud to be featured, proud of the impressive, dominating backdrop the towers provided, proud of the image it cast of a modern, technologically advanced culture. They didn’t care that the plot wasn’t that creative. And now that I’ve been there, I’m inclined to watch the movie – just to see the actors move through the space I’d occupied myself, albeit for a very brief time (the brevity due to my profound fear of heights).

The Petronas Towers at night.

The Petronas Towers at night.

Connection makes a difference. When you’re connected, you notice things disconnected people don’t notice. When you’re connected, what was unimportant to you previously can become very important to you. When you’re connected, judgments other people make don’t even occur to you. Critics of “Entrapment” might say, “That was beneath Sean Connery!” Residents of Kuala Lumpur would say, “Did you see how fantastic those towers looked!”

And that’s why nurturing connection in our world is so important. We can only maintain our harsh judgments, our starkly drawn boundaries, and our lack of empathy when we maintain distance from other people. However, when we enter into their worlds, connect with them, and listen to them, our own world becomes deeper, richer, broader, and more full of life.

Notice it: when you nurture a connection with a member of a group of folks you’d previously judged harshly (in my case, it’s members of the NRA), you discover characteristics that don’t exactly square with your prejudices. You discover that you’re called upon to soften your rhetoric, and see more honestly the humanity you share with them.

Take the step to nurture a connection with a person you’ve previously dismissed. You’ll discover scenes you never imagined.

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