As I shovelled mulch into the wheelbarrow I had four young male students engage me in the finer points of the work. One was Indian, another Caucasian, another African American, and the final boy was Asian. I was captivated more by their unity of friendship than their curiosity for my work, even as I did explain the benefits of mulch for gardens and how to move the product.
Their unity shouldn’t have seemed strange. It should make us enquire about it, and give us cause to celebrate it. And though it would seem that these four boys would have their disagreements from time to time, as occurs in all walks of life when we share a common space with others, it appears that there’s more that connects them than separates them.
Yet, as we grow older, and certainly into adolescence and subsequent adulthood, we’re more often than not polarised by our world to be separatist in one way or other. We’re expected to choose political and religious alliances, not to mention the fact we’re trained in life to have an opinion on almost everything.
As soon as we decide to have a view we prove ourselves as separatist, unless we hold in mature tension the idea that there is one thing more important than the view we’ve chosen. That is that the next person’s right to choose in opposition is as sacred a right as ours is to choose as we have done. If we’ve agreed beforehand that that will be our value, we have every right to hold a view.
We must always hold ourselves to the shortest account on our suspicion of others and of our excusing of ourselves. We question the other’s motive, yet our motive is as pure as driven snow. That’s default human nature; we have to contend with ourselves first and foremost. The problem is in us, or begins with us, not so much the other person. (Of course, the opposite is also true, if we look at things from their viewpoint.)
Four six-year-old boys, each of different ethnicity, yet best of friends, taught me that unity transcends difference. What love puts together, indifference will not separate.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.