The Differences Between Us

Elizabeth - Portland, Oregon
Entered on June 10, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, tolerance, war

There is a young woman in Corpus Christi, Texas, who is learning how to fly. She gets up early every morning. She studies hard. She follows a strict regimen. She sometimes sends emails and photographs to track her progress, as she did recently after successfully completing her first formation solo.

This young woman is an officer in the Marine Corps. She is also my kid sister.

My name is Elizabeth Armstrong Moore. I’m 28 years old. I live in Portland, Oregon. I’m married, and I like to cook, and rock climb, and read. I’m a journalist and a piano teacher, and the only bumper sticker on our only car says Oregon Public Broadcasting.

On the surface, our lives are easy to paint in opposition. Anne is a military officer. She speaks in acronyms, and her allegiance is first and foremost to our constitution. If she were called to Iraq, she would go, without question, and she would do what she is ordered to do. And on the surface, I’m the stereotypical yuppie. Young, married, always trying to bike instead of drive, eating local and organic, an active voter, and library cardholder. The list goes on.

And while beneath that surface we actually share many qualities – our discipline, our love of order, our energy and athleticism – there is also strength in all the places where we do not overlap.

I believe in the differences between us. That we live in a world of grays. That our diverging beliefs and endeavors are testaments to our individuality and intellect. I know that we can love each other, my sister and I, in spite of our differences, because we do every day.

So many people I’ve met who are against the war in Iraq balk when they learn that my kid sister is a Marine. But this war does not just have two sides – those who are for it and those who are against it. It also has those who are in it, as well as those who have lost people to it, regardless of whether they believe in our reasons for being there.

Most of us can understand bits of both sides of every argument. Most of us know and love people whose beliefs and lifestyles we do not understand. That is what it is to be human. We have layers, textures, ways of seeing the world that shift over time.

I love and respect my sister not only for the things we share, but also for the things I may never understand. And I acknowledge that the path she has taken, as far as it has led her from where I am and what I do today, may even be more meaningful than my own. And if so, how proud I am to call myself her sister.