This is a reflection on differences. Of late, the importance of differences has struck me; over the head; repeatedly. That’s probably what’s motivated me to write about it.
Now, the tenor of this blog is always fairly apolitical and non-controversial so, I’m going to avoid any references to the recent ‘off year’ elections and other political donnybrooks that have been going on for what seems like forever. Instead, I want to talk about the positive side of differences and being different.
I suppose this gelled for me the other day as we were chatting with our neighbor, fellow blogger, and friend, Rob. Rob is a retired military chaplain. He’s a deeply religious man. He knows his convictions and yet, he doesn’t feel compelled to foist them onto others.
He’s a lot like our friend Gareth. Again, retired military. A spiritual man who walks an unconventional but never the less committed path. And, another man who, despite his own convictions, never proselytizes.
Then, there’s our nearest (in proximity but not in ease of access) neighbor, Mike. He’s also retired military. (I’m sensing a theme here, how about you?) Mike is younger than either Rob or Gareth. He’s a car guy, what our brother-in-law would call a gear head. We see Mike once in a great while but when we do, it’s always nice.
The point is, that these three men and their families all have very different orientations, experiences, and outlooks than we do but – and this is a huge but – we all get along well. Which raises the question, Why?
I think it’s probably because, despite our differences, we all respect and value the other viewpoints. We have found a commonality to base our associations upon and then built a richer, more satisfying relationship with each other based on the respect for and value of our differences.
It’s a lot like cooking a soup or a stew. You begin with common ingredients. Broth. A meat (or maybe not). You add onions, garlic, vegetables, noodles or rice, you get the idea. All soups and stews have some common elements. But what makes the soup one type or another are the proportions of the ingredients and the seasonings. Those are the things that are different and make the same ingredients interesting, time after time.
Take chicken vegetable soup. It’s chicken broth, chicken meat, onion, garlic, bay leaf, celery, carrot, potato and some salt and pepper. A hearty, satisfying soup that nourishes and warms you. But, what if we added some differences? Toss in a little oregano, a couple of peeled tomatoes, a few diced roasted green chilies, a handful of shredded cheddar cheese, and top it off with some diced cilantro and presto! You have Caldo de Queso. A Mexican soup that is to die for on a cold rainy day.
I could wax poetic a lot longer but, this is my point. We benefit from differences. Like a soup, we need a little piquance from time to time. We need other beliefs to challenge and moderate our own. We need different viewpoints to modify and refine ours. And most of all, we need to recognize that, whether we’re good old reliable chicken vegetable or Caldo de Queso or even exotic Mulligatawny we have common ingredients which bind us together more than the differences in our seasonings divide us.
Okay, gotta run now. I can hear the soup pot calling to me. I wonder which seasonings will end up in it today?