Commonality in a Community of Mothers
I am the wife of an LDS (Mormon) bishop. My best friend from high school is the wife of a Jewish rabbi. By reconnecting on the Internet we have discovered that as wives of clergy we have a lot in common and that the congregations our husbands lead have far more similarities than we imagined.
A common theme has emerged in my mind as I travel around the world of mothers on the Internet—the deep emotional response of women about the divisiveness in our current world culture.
How is it that so many millions, billions, of people in this world honestly feel it is better to hate and to fear than to extend a hand in friendship? How can anyone raise their children to hate, to fear, even to murder those who are different? Are we really so different from each other? What would happen if we all chose to enact a change, to let that change begin right here, right now. To let go of hate and fear and learn to celebrate our differences.
In another of Robin’s posts, The Importance of a Supportive Community I found another Mother in Israel writing this true statement, “Every family needs to be part of a connected, supportive community.” Her post includes an important list of ways we can make our community stronger.
As I consider Robin’s statement to “celebrate our differences” I wonder if our real purpose is not to find what is different but to find as she says that we “aren’t so different from each other.”
Although every blogger has the right to include what she wishes on her blog, I don’t think it’s fair to force your opinions on others. I tend to stay away from blogs that are overtly negative or criticize, and especially those that are close-minded. I have one real-life friend whose religious and political views have always been the complete opposite of mine. And yet, we have so much other than that in common.
Our intolerance of differing opinions is contributing to broken families, divided communities and ultimately to hate, fear, murder and war, and that itself is a controversial topic.
However, it is a topic that mothers especially should be considering and writing about in a positive way precisely because as Lis says, “We do have so much in common and we aren’t so different from each other.”
I served as a regional president of a large women’s organization for nearly five years. I found that the more we focused on diversity, the less unity we attained. And, the more we focused on what we have in common, the more unity we gained.
As we aim to build communities throughout the world, despite our differences, our purpose should be to seek unity, not diversity, by finding what we have in common.
There is a movement to highlight diversity as a goal rather than a fact. Differences are real and the very word itself implies a lack of agreement. But magnifying our differences divides us.
In our culture we have come to look for what differentiates us from those we disagree with, explore or magnify those differences, build evidence for our side, find others who agree with us, and ultimately divide ourselves into separate groups who engage in divisive communication with the groups who oppose us.
Once these separate groups occur, we have little ability to move between separate groups and regain or form larger and stronger communities.
The website Indivisible: Stories of American Community
portrays—through the original artistic contributions of leading photographers and interviewers—the creativity, energy, and richness of local involvement in America, a largely untold story of the many individual and combined acts that are shaping communities and ultimately the future of the country.
While each person will have their own experience in this documentary gallery, I am inspired by the similarities of individuals and places, not their differences.
I envision a community to be just what it means—a group of people in the same place or locality who build on their common interests. And our ability to communicate about what makes us compatible will connect our communities, one family to another, the world over.
Read more of Finding What Inspires in April when I post the series, “Conversations with a Jewish Rabbi and a Mormon Bishop” on Wednesdays as part of Everyday Biography.