Our kindergartener talks in terms of good choices, sharing time, work time, recess, helping one another to learn, good listening and respecting his neighbor. Cheers to kindergartener teachers everywhere who lay out these basic structures for living life as a part of a community. Kudos to those who held onto those values as they moved past kindergarten. Mazel Tov to the leaders who remind us that these very basic values work at every stage of life and in every environment.
At this point, we have two cats, one dog, one bird, three Russians, one Omani, two middle-aged folks, three teens and one pre-teen living in our house. We have three vastly different cultures. (Not under our roof but in our family, we have one child in Spain and one in Minneapolis) I am struck by the fact that this is just one house in one city in one country. To have so many personalities trying to manage sharing space and resources can be a little bumpy at times. We usually resolve things though because we trust one another (for the most part) and we love one another and, most importantly, we agree that resolving things makes living better for all of us.
Today, I am going to shop for halal meat for the first time. This year, I have been to my first Russian services. I have learned some words in new languages. I have tried foods that I never had before. I have learned about other ways of doing life and have worked to adapt my habits and customs to make the folks in our house more comfortable. To be honest, I have had to do that to adapt to my husband’s ways of doing things and my own kids’ ways of doing things too. I mess up all the time. I say the wrong things. I cook the wrong things. I jump to the wrong conclusions. I accidentally hurt feelings. I send confusing messages. I make mistakes. I ask forgiveness. I try again.
When I read the news and learn about the ways that we humans find to hurt one another and how easily we disrespect one another and how rarely we give one another the benefit of the doubt, I start to despair. The living that we do here, under our single roof, takes a commitment to trying our best. If we weren’t, it would be unbearable. We have to get along because our space has limits and cooperation is expected. I wish that there was a magic spell which could be said to create these same constraints universally so that we, the global we, would have to get along with one another. I am deeply saddened by all the time and mourning and cost that is sucked up by human-on-human bad choices.
I wish that we could all sit in a big circle together, just like we did in kindergarten class, looking around the circle for a while so that we could be reminded of the basic getting-along rules. Naively, I think that if our little household can make it work, why can’t everyone. I know it is more complicated than that…but does it have to be? We are trying to get it right and end up getting it wrong lots of the time…the key is that we are trying.