About that dress…that red and pink dress I mentioned I was wearing while trying to remain low-profile as an observer at a protest last weekend…
I love that dress. I bought it at a second hand store to take with me on my trip to Paris a few months ago. It’s colorful and sassy and very French. Also, impossible to miss. I stood on the sidewalk, against the fenced parking lot as the protesters stood and began to make their way to another part of town. Another place to sit and repeat their message. The crowd consisted mostly of African Americans who, as I explained in my last blog, are “tired” and want the city to know it. It was a somber processional and I was reflecting on what I had just witnessed, when I realized someone was talking to me. An African American woman, about 20 years younger than me was passing by. And in the most unlikely of situations she says with a chipper tone and a smile, “Cute Dress!”. I replied in kind, “Thanks!”.
For several days I thought about the conclusion of this historic event. I knew it meant something but I wasn’t’ sure what. I even implored an explanation from my husband. His answer was good, but it wasn’t my answer. It took me a few days of reflecting and revisiting to figure out what that interaction meant to me. It’s a Recovery Principle that came to my mind: “Look for the similarities, not the differences.”
What does that mean exactly? It means that even in the middle of a protest, where emotions are high and differences are highlighted and on display, we can find a common ground. It means two girls can come together because of something as simple as Fashion Appreciation. In a world where uniqueness and doing things that set us apart in order to get attention, make money or rebel seems to rule, there is still a deeper desire for us to relate to one another. To find ways we are the same. As hard as we work to be different, our souls long to be connected and included.
It reminded me of a analogy outlined in the big book of AA. It’s a story about a great ocean liner sinking and how the passengers, “from steerage to Captain’s table”, rejoiced together upon being rescued. The author talks about how, within the Fellowship of AA, there is great diversity in regard to religion, race, occupation, and social, economical and political status. That they are a people who “normally would not mix” were it not for a common peril. And most importantly, a common solution.
This is the root of why I write. First and foremost, I try to remind us that, as fellow life-travelers, we also have a common Solution. Remember my mantra from the first 3 of the 12 Steps? “I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let Him.” Also, I hope to aid us in seeing where we are the same rather than feeling like we are the “only one”. I believe, that at our core of cores, we are more alike than we are different. Regardless of the diversities mentioned above, we all have felt the pangs and haunting of betrayal, hurt, unforgiveness, shame, and failure. We all long for belonging, acceptance, unconditional love, tolerance, kindness, patience, grace and understanding.
We are all doing the best we can at any given time. It’s time to be gracious with ourselves and others. We are all suffering from the common malady of being broken humans in a broken world. It’s time to show love and tolerance to people who don’t think exactly like we do. There are people all around us who are currently in grave and unfathomable pain. It’s time to assume that anyone you meet, especially those who are behaving poorly or reacting rudely, could be in such a place. As Oswald Chambers puts it, “there is always one fact more in every man’s case that, if you knew it, you would suspend judgment.”
It’s time to stop focusing on differences and the the things that keep us separate, and begin to open ourselves up the possibility that we are actually more alike than we ever imagined. And if it needs to start with acknowledging a little red dress at a protest, so be it.