Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Building Bridges

My last post about politics created a lot of conversation, and that's a good thing. We can't build bridges if we never put on our hard hats, strap on a tool belt and get to work. In this case "work" means conversations. We have to be able to talk to each other if we're ever going to appreciate and understand each other.

Special thanks to my cousin, Doug, for being willing to enter the conversation. It's no surprise to Doug and me that we won't always find common ground. He's a liberal from the North, and I'm a conservative from the South. I tend to see things more exclusively, and he has more of a pluralistic outlook. I just about can't bear to watch anything political these days, and Doug doesn't go a night without watching the pundits. We're from different worlds, and we see things in different ways.

I used to think that was bad, and it appeared that Doug and I would never really be close. We were too far apart, and us dumb Southerners (a title more felt than stated) could never really be taken seriously by our Yankee relatives. At the same time, our secular Northern intillectual family never felt tolerated by their Bible toting, evangelical cousins. Doug and I have never talked openly about these feelings, but we didn't have to. These thoughts were like that t-shirt you thought was a good purchase, but now only takes up space in your drawer. You never talk about it, but it's always there.

I think deep down Doug and I never really bought in to all of those feelings. We always knew we liked each other, but weren't sure how to overcome the unstated junk that kept us apart. We have always been kindred spirits, but have never had the time or opportunity to explore a true relationship. I think those days are over.

Last month Doug flew into Dallas for business, and we met up and had dinner at a local tex-mex. It was the first time I didn't feel threatened by Doug's extremely well-spoken wit and intellect. We had a wonderful time, and my wife and I felt cared for and listened to, and there was a mutual respect and admiration that has been awkward to achieve in the past. We followed up that visit with a spirited conversation about politics right here on this blog. That same respect and admiration was present in our conversation.

Maybe we're just older and wiser, and maybe we are tired of feeling like we have something to defend. We are who we are, and that's ok. It's good to know that we don't have to change each other to enjoy each other. Thanks for the visit, Doug, and I look forward to building more bridges with you in the future.

No comments: