Friday, February 19, 2016

The Great Debate

In my family of origin my siblings and I do not always agree on things.  We hold a wide range of social, moral, religious philosophies and opinions about every thing from sports to politics to our faith lives and beyond.  We were raised to be thinkers and researchers and listeners to the other side.  Put downs and insults were brought into the debate sometimes, but generally the name callers were called out for what they were doing, attempting to cover up a weak argument or anger by bullying someone else. My siblings and I don't just hold separate and varied opinions, we debate them. A family holiday with my family might not so much be represented by a Norman Rockwell painting as a tennis match with words flying instead of tennis balls.

I was surprised to discover in my grown up life that not all families are like that.  In many families, I discovered, expressing a differing opinion was the beginning of a war that might result in hurt feelings, estrangement and even a family rift.  Someone's opinion was held and should not be challenged.  The challengers were judged bad and wrong and maybe even evil.  A debate might quickly become a playground brawl. Different opinions were to be held quietly and not expressed.

I am most comfortable with my siblings, even the ones with whom I hold strong disagreements than with anyone else I know.  I have been in situations and family gatherings outside of my family of origin over the past many years that were uncomfortable and painful.  I don't know how to make such differing styles come together into a serene and happy situation. Truly, that is not my job or my role in life.  But somewhere in the great debate there is compromise and respect of others and finding places of commonality and peace.  I look forward to getting together again with my siblings and continuing the great debate.

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