This I Believe

Mark - Sacramento, California
Entered on January 1, 2007

I believe in unions. Whether it is the union of two people in marriage or a union of laborers or the union of thirteen colonies, we are stronger together than apart.

I married a strong woman who yins to my yang: who stands when I sit, is smooth when I am coarse, who centers me when I test the fringe. I am better with her than without her, although at times our differences cause strain.

I was opposed to labor unions until I joined one, without which I would make less money, be subjected to harsher conditions, and have fewer benefits. My union represents me well, although at times I resent their other pursuits. The company benefits too; it is able to select among well-qualified applicants, has a steady workforce, and is recognized for excellence in its field, although at times it resents the union’s influence.

I am a citizen of the United States—an amalgam of 50 unique states, any one of which on its own would be the lesser and the whole would be lesser too. I am sure Ohio is a great place, but they would not have sent John Glenn into space on their own. No single state could have impacted World War II the way we did as the United States. And a century and a half ago we had a civil war, but when the World Trade Center towers came down on September 11, 2001, we stood as one.

I often overlook my personal strengths, assuming things I do well are basic attributes of all. I am jealous of those who do not seem to share my weaknesses because I see *their* strengths and *my* weaknesses. I do not feel the sting of their failures, am not embarrassed by their short-comings as if those were my own, and so assume they are not as burdened as I. In a union, however, we each have strengths that complement someone else’s weaknesses to benefit the whole.

So it is throughout life: the union is greater than its parts. A cell wall on its own is like a poet without words, but add a protoplasm, and you’ve got something to write home about. Similarly the heart, by itself, won’t explore the cosmos, but in union with other organs and tissues and bones it can soar to great heights. So it is in a marriage, in the workplace, and in the world.

This I believe.