I voted for Hillary Clinton. In that way I am different from you. I’m sure if we looked hard enough (or maybe it wouldn’t be so hard) we’d find a hundred more differences. So what. Why are your needs so much greater than mine; or my needs greater than yours? Sure you can tell me to fuck off and leave you alone and neither of our worlds would really change; but if you’ve read this much a little more couldn’t hurt, right?
I can imagine it wouldn’t be so farfetched to consider we have something in common – the love for our family. I mean if you’re anything at all like me, you think about your children being healthy, having a roof over their heads and being able to provide them a good life. As fathers we think about these things; it’s what we do. I can also imagine if something goes wrong you’d do anything and everything in your power to make it right. Like I said, in that way, we’re similar.
Still reading? Good.
I’m not going to talk politics – I can believe that will get us nowhere fast. I am going to talk about fatherhood though because it’s something very important to me and something I actually enjoy talking about. Raising my son is one of the greatest jobs I’ve been given and God willing, watching him grow into a man will be one of the best gifts I could ever receive. When I get older, if I could look back knowing I provided him with what he needed to become part of our society, to live his own life and have his own family, well shit, that’s reward enough for me to leave this planet a happy man.
Part of me raising my son is teaching him about our world and how to interact with others (this is where our differences come in). After reading and watching the world’s reaction to the election of Donald Trump as our next president, I fear a lot of us either haven’t been taught or have forgotten how to handle differences and how to interact with someone who believes in something different from ourselves. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe I’m not. I’m moving forward with the assumption that I’m not and I plan on teaching my son a thing or two (or three) about relationships.
Below is a letter I wrote to him and I want to share it with you. I realize there’s a possibility you one, already teach your children these things; two, don’t give a shit and fuck my ideas; or three, maybe, just maybe you connect with something I’ve said and have considered it important enough to share with the ones you love. I’ll leave the rest to you.
As you grow up and navigate your way through life you’ll meet a lot of people. Some of these people will become your friends, some will not like you and there be others you yourself will not like. Regardless, it’s important to do your best to be kind to everyone and to treat those you meet in the way you want to be treated. If you want people to be kind; be kind to them. If you want people to be generous; be generous to them…and so on.
This is not always easy because people believe in different things; one thing that is really important to you may not be at all important to them and vice versa; something very important to them may not be so for you.
We all carry our own beliefs and our own values in life and that in itself is a large part of what makes this country great. You will hold different values than your friends and you will, at some point in time, discover those differences. How you move forward from there will determine, in large part, who you are as a man among men.
If you find yourself in difference with someone and…
if they respond with understanding, appreciate it;
if they respond with compassion, hear it;
if they respond with empathy, embrace it;
and if they respond with love, accept it.
Also, if you find yourself in difference and…
if they respond with ignorance, work to help them understand;
if they respond with arrogance, remind them it’s we, not I;
if they respond with aggression, walk away;
and if they respond with slander and choose to not listen, consider their company is not worth your time.
There are so many other possibilities and I think you’ll understand what’s important here; if you’re in difference with someone who is willing to listen, continue the conversation and eventually you’ll get to learn about one another and begin to respect each others values and beliefs. If you are in difference with someone who is not willing to listen and refuses to talk about anything you have to say, your energy and your effort is probably best used somewhere else. The trick with the latter is that you still hold respect for them as a human and walk away with your dignity because giving up your own beliefs to prove a point is becoming the very person you dislike.
Lastly, remember you’ll make mistakes. You’ll scream at someone who doesn’t agree with you, you’ll believe your way is the only way, and you’ll most likely be in a mood one day when you just don’t want to listen to anything anyone has to say. We’re human – you’re human. You’re destined to make mistakes. It’s what you learn and what you do with it that defines who you are. Believe me I’ve made hundreds of mistakes in my life and I’ve learned something from each and every one of them.
Friendships and relationships are not always easy. If you find yourself overwhelmed and you’re not sure of what to do, remember who you are; a smart, loving, caring, responsible, courageous and compassionate young man. Once you remember that, take a deep breath, pause and consider your next move.
Originally Published on Dad 101
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