What I believe more than anything else is that in spite of our differences, we are all really the same at our core. We all want to be loved. We all want to belong. We all want to be respected. We all want to be heard. Some may attempt to accomplish these goals in destructive ways but I believe that underneath the destruction, the basic goals are the same. When I look around the world today, I see frustrated, desperate people manipulating one another, screaming words of hate, detonating bombs…all in the pursuit of being heard, being respected….having their point of view understood and accepted…being loved. It seems inconceivable to me that goals as admirable and pure as love and acceptance can be twisted into violence and aggression. Still, it happens every day. So much time is spent dividing that there is little time left for uniting.
The one relationship that has taught me this truth more than any other is my relationship with my father. My dad is a conservative Christian who stands firmly at the right side of the political spectrum on everything from abortion to gun control to gay marriage. To me, the world makes much more sense when viewed from the left side of the political spectrum. I celebrate the unions of my gay friends. I abhor the sound of gunfire. Abortion is not a black and white issue for me. To my dad, the world is black and white, right and wrong. To me, the world is a much more complicated place with many shades of gray.
Still, when I look at my dad, I see myself. Like a mirror image, we are the same object expressed in reverse. The things on his right side are expressed on my left but everything in the middle is the same. Like my dad, I have difficulty admitting mistakes and asking for help. Like my dad, I have the strength to climb mountains and run marathons. Like my dad, even when I know that I’ve done well, I have a hard time admitting it. Like my dad, I am full of anxiety, consumed with big dreams, full of self-doubt. Like my dad, I am beautiful and talented and worthy of happiness. We are complicated beings, my father and I–so different and yet so much the same. I am his legacy and he is the mold from which I was made.
I believe that most contentious relationships are this way. The needs are the same but the methods for meeting those needs are vastly different. It’s like the Grand Canyon–sometimes the valley between the two cliffs is so wide and deep that it’s hard to imagine that once, very long ago, these two cliffs were one. These two, once-joined forces of nature have now divided to create something truly spectacular. The trick is coming close enough to admire the breath-taking beauty without stumbling over the edge and falling into the abyss.
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