I come from a colorful family. Colorful in more ways than one! A big, sometimes boisterous, opinionated, stubborn, emotional family. I was gifted with not only 7 biological siblings but 4 adopted* ones. We are of varied ethnicity and as my siblings and I marry and grow families of our own, we have blossomed into an even greater mosaic of personalities and nationalities. It is beautiful.
We discuss race and racial bias a fair bit in our household. We have experienced some ugliness and feel the undercurrent of fear and distrust as our country becomes more and more multi-cultural and diverse in various ways. We wrestle with questions and change and shifting values. But this is not a blog about politics or religion – and I have no desire for it to be. It IS, however, a blog based on the belief that all human beings are amazingly knit-together, in need of love, deserving to be treated with kindness and compassion.
Underneath our piercings and hair styles, our head scarves or blue jeans, our parkas or sarongs… we are just people. People who want to love and be loved. To make babies (or not) and watch them grow up in safety and health. To have a future and a hope. To contribute to the world in a meaningful way – big or small. To enjoy freedom and good food and clean water. Those who kill and maim and rape and seek to destroy freedom are the minority – they should not be permitted to steal our joy or cause us to turn on each other. Why do we war against flesh and blood?
If you are black or white or pink with polka dots (that’s me), old or young, struggling with your weight or perfectly content in your body; whether you are multi-talented or haven’t yet figured out what your talent is – you are important. You are needed. You have much to offer the world. If your journey took you into corporate America or a small Canadian town to raise chickens and little people – your life matters. If you breast feed or bottle feed, speak 8 languages or struggle enough with your native tongue, dream of making your mark or dream of just making it through the day… you are here for a purpose. From the newborn daughter breathing her first to the aged man breathing his last… all have value and deserve tender, compassionate care.
Every tribe and every tongue is a gift to be celebrated. I am not the most politically savvy person and I am not a theologian but I have tasted love. I know the beauty of diversity in color and personality, in food and tradition. I see the incredible handiwork of people formed in all different shapes and sizes. Those built to climb mountains and those born without limbs. I hear poetry in language and dialect and difference of opinion (softly spoken).
My family has taught me this – be careful about judging a book by its cover. Inside the intimidating frame of the toughest man lies the heart of a teddy bear. At the core of the petite woman beats the heart of a warrior. The pierced and tattooed man I judge is the most tender of fathers. That woman who looks like she has it all together is dying inside. They are just people. Fragile, beautiful, imperfect, often courageous, interesting people.
We may disagree and not choose each other as friends. But we can still be kind and respectful and offer each other the same dignity we desire for ourselves and our children. We can “be the change we hope to see in the world.” We can choose to speak words of life and encouragement and lift each other up rather than tear down. We can build bridges and restore hearts and help repair broken lives ripped apart by senseless violence.
I am so grateful to have been born into a big, messy, colorful family and for my parents who modeled love and compassion. I am thankful for my African husband and beautiful, interesting children who must determine their own cultural identity and for people who challenge me to grow and consider a different perspective. For friends with pink hair or dreads and those who have lost their hair to chemo. I am humbled by the beauty in my life that comes in all colors, shapes and sizes.
May we walk in peace,
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*one of my sisters was never formally adopted because parental rights were never terminated.
**artwork by Jairus Davi-Digui