As families, friends and colleagues gather to celebrate the holiday season and each other, I can’t help but think that each grouping, no matter where they are, or who they are, seek the same things at heart. Everyone wants to be accepted, loved, and feel happy, safe, and sound. We gather in our tribes because they bring comfort. So does every other tribe, as opposite or different they may appear.
My husband’s aunt would quip in her Quaker wisdom, “Everyone is queer but thee and me, and thee is a little queer.” Of course, this means that it’s always someone else who is the curiosity, the different one! Never ourselves! Everyone should be like us, right?
Each of our families is a microcosm of the bigger family of man. If we can transcend differences in our families, we can offer that perspective to the world. If we create harmony in our own homes, we contribute harmony to the world. Conversely, if we can’t accept our own family members, or be in harmony with them, how can we expect to experience the same in our communities, nations and other peoples?
How we behave in our little corners of the world affects the behavior of the world. Combined, we ARE the world. When we experience injustices in the world we would be wise to examine ourselves and see where we harbor resentments locally, maybe even in our own homes and hearts. This is where world behavior begins- in each of us. We expect others to be good per our standards, yet how well do we live up to them? We expect someone to be lovable before we love them. We expect them to be what we need them to be before we can feel good about them.
This holiday season, let’s extend love and forgiveness to ourselves for times we acted against our own values. Were there times we wished ill to those who want nothing more than we want for ourselves? We can try on the invitation of the poet Rumi when he invited us to meet him, “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.” I believe FamilyAffaire.com contributor Dr. Dan Gottlieb suggested a good place to start. We can offer each other the invitation, “Tell me your story”. I would add, “What’s it like to be you?” When we listen loudly to each other, meaning listen to what is at the heart of our words, and how that came to be, we will discover we all want the same basic things.
If we find one thing in common through listening, it is a path to connection. Connecting in a place that matters to us both is traction for more understanding. Take the word understanding- To me the word suggests “standing under”, like a foundation upon which to build. Let’s see if we can connect with our children, spouses, significant others, co-workers, friends, and extended family members to strengthen what’s under our relationships. Let’s see if we can reach “under” someone else’s point of view to find a connection as another member of our human family.
That’s the holiday spirit in action that has the power to transform our relationships, families, communities and the world!
May our families be happy. May our families be well. May they be safe. May they be peaceful and at ease.