Swiffers or Steam…a lesson perhaps on what is on the surface is not necessarily as important as what is underneath…

On the surface, one might think my parents and I have nothing in common, other than DNA.  We do not watch the same news channels or listen to the same talk radio station. They do not like to try new foods and I will literally try any food, any time, at least once.  They vote red and I vote blue.  On the outside we appear to be completely different, but below the surface we are so much alike…my strong work ethic is because of my parents, my ability to find a missing $0.03 three cents over the course of a year while balancing my checkbooks is because of my parents, sewing on a button when it has fallen off, or doing the chores at hand at home when they need doing, and trying not to put things off, that whole “stitch in time saves nine” way of life, is because of my parents.  When I find myself with any income more than my standard monthly budget,  where some women might go to Nordstrom for a shopping spree, I put it right towards my mortgage principal.  I am certain these sorts of behaviors, the deeper parts of me, are because of my parents. We disagree on MANY, oh so very many things, but it isn’t everything, it is just a portion of the whole…

A Valentine to the world if you will, is this; we must find a way to have common ground with our families, our neighbors, and our acquaintances.  Steam cleaning gets to the ground-in dirt, and swiffers get rid of the dusty top-surface-layer…life is deep, love and friendship is too, and common ground is where things matter…not in the dusty top-surface-layers.  We must try to find those things which join us, and bring us joy together, rather than focus on those things which make us bicker and feel disconnected.  We can absolutely loathe a policy, an administration, and a president, but we should not loathe our families, our neighbors, and our acquaintances because they don’t think as we do about these things.  It has not always been this way, and it won’t always be this way; much like in years or decades of the past when the policies, administration, and president was one we loved and supported or favored, but they didn’t.  It can’t be ‘you are wrong and I am not wrong’ all of the time, always one direction.  I think they are wrong now, and they thought I was wrong then, but now is not forever…this feeling of being on one side or the other does not last… we are, like it or not, all on the same side as occupants of planet earth and members of the human race…we are in this together.

My daughter loves country music.  I do not like it at all.  You know what we both like?  Jewelry and Sangria.  We don’t argue about the fact that she really loves country music and I really hate it, in fact we don’t talk about it at all.  In the big picture, her love of country music and how I loathe it, has nothing to do with our relationship.  My neighbor on the corner has a red MAGA flag on her fence and I have a yard filled with Buddha sculptures of all shapes and sizes, we have almost nothing in common, so it would seem, this lady and I, but come summer time you will see that we both love flowers and tending to our properties, because it’s obvious from how our yards look that we both care, a lot, about where we live…her surface and my surface are not alike, but I try to see that the deeper part of who she is and what matters to her, is more like me than different from me.  From the bottom of my heart, I beg you to care less about what you are seeing and hearing on the surface, and to try to smile on your brother and try to love one another…

I can talk or write about ALL the many things I do not like about the current president, the policies, the things I have heard with my own ears and read with my own eyes, and those who love him and the things he says will simply counter with all that they believe to be true, and they will point out where they think I have been misinformed.  I can show them all the fact-checking data that has been gathered, over these years and show them where they are being terribly misled, and are by choice “believing provably false information.”  I can do all these things, and it will not matter because they like the president they like and they believe what they want to believe.  Period.  JUST LIKE I LIKED the presidents I liked, and the policies that I thought were smart and good, and I too believe what I want to believe.  It goes both ways.  We can’t make people think the way that we want them to think, about anything, because those beliefs and ideologies are like cement; theirs are theirs and mine are mine, and I have learned that most people, when they have come to adulthood, are not easily swayed to “another side” no matter what.  I know I certainly could not be, and they know they could not be.  Period.  I have come to understand that this is, in the simplest terms,  no different than the fact that I think mint chip ice cream is the BEST ICE CREAM, believe me, it is better than all the other flavors, it is the best there is available, it is a perfect flavor.  I know this, and I want them to know this.  BUT…they like vanilla, they don’t believe me that mint chip is better, or the best, or the better choice than the one they are choosing.  It’s okay.  We don’t have to argue about it every day, or every time we are together, or stop talking about other things because they like vanilla and I don’t.  I don’t have to daily share data that clearly demonstrates that vanilla is not in fact the best, that, when compared to other flavors it’s not even mediocre.  The fact that I think it’s awful and have data to support my argument that there are MANY choices that are MUCH better, doesn’t matter because they like what they like and I like what I like, AND I don’t have to make them like what I like in order to like them.

At yoga class, despite listening to music about peace and truth, and being one with one another, and hearing readings by Thich Nhat Hanh and Buddha, I am pretty confident that not every person in class has the same likes and dislikes that I do. I am certain that as strongly as I feel about the right a woman has to choose whether or not to maintain or terminate a pregnancy, there is probably a woman in class who believes just as strongly that I am wrong, and that her ideas about when “life begins” is the only truth that matters, because it matters to her…but get this, when she is breathing next to me, and we are both trying to maintain a difficult pose, her opinion about my thoughts on feminist theory and planned parenthood funding has nothing to do with my thoughts about her anti-choice agenda, our common ground at that moment is that we are both working very hard to not fall over.  In a perfect world we would all think that the same things matter, but the world is not perfect and we humans are not perfect.  THIS is my love letter to all…we don’t have to like the same things to like each other.  We don’t have to believe that the same things are important in order to be friendly to people.  Those ideas that we do share, those activities that we do all enjoy, those situations that make us all laugh, these are the meaningful solid ground, common ground things that matter, not the surface ‘dust’ that can easily be erased by a sweep of a swiffer.

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