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Discovering what we have in Common than Different
The hyper-focusing on identity these days tends to be used for the purpose of finding what makes us different rather than discovering how much we have in common.
I've moved a lot in my life. I've lived in 5 states in total and lived in culturally mixed environments. Even as a kid, my primary concern when meeting people revolved around their character despite what they looked like.
I remember the old saying "treat people like you want to be treated" and so, I'm generally respectful to people & do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt. By living this way, I've been able to learn so much from different people & widen my perspective on life.
The more I’ve lived my life in this manner, the more I’ve been able to see what we have in common, more so than what we differ from. Even in the areas where we differ, I’ve found them to be interesting rather than threatening because we can all learn from each other.
Over the past few years, I've been expanding my circle of friends & reaching out to people that I normally wouldn't have years prior. That's when I met a man named Phil. Phil is white, a veteran & in his early 70s. On the surface, we have nothing in common.
Initially, we were just discussing general politics & sharing our opinions, but when we talked on a personal level, I found we shared something in common that altered our projection in life; we both grew up without our fathers. Actually, he doesn’t know who his father is.
As I told him about how I moved a lot as a kid, from state to state, apartment to apartment & at times homeless, Phil told me how he was constantly moving & even moved to Belize & Honduras to escape his life.
We both described how we felt lost as young men and we both had a hard time figuring out what it meant to be a man & understanding what our purpose is. Unfortunately for Phil, he took to using alcohol to suppress his emotions, which affected his relationships tremendously.
At one point, we would chat online for hours talking about our past & he would share with me these amazing stories of near death experiences while living in Central America. He would also share with me stories of regret for how he treated his children due to his alcoholism.
I encouraged him to reach out to his children and apologize to them, which he did. I expressed to him that he does not want to leave this world with regret for not apologizing to the people he loves. I am glad to say that now one of his sons talks to him semi-regularly.
On the other end, Phil encouraged me to keep writing & keep expressing myself. Phil would tell anyone who would listen about me, even before I published my book. Phil believed in me from day one & it's hard to find people in life who are sincere in their support for your success.
We are both flawed but we both have good hearts. Our commonality helped to make us fast friends who truly believe in each other and I am forever grateful to know him. As a token of my appreciation, I even wrote about him in one of the chapters in my book.
Because we met online, I never knew if I would be able to meet him in person. Well, that day happened last week. Phil drove 3 hours with his wife & a friend to come & see me give a speech. He sat in the front row smiling the whole time.
Nearly every time we talk, he tells me how much he believes in me & how special I am, which is something many people never get to experience. He also tells me how I helped him from going down the political rabbit hole & helped to restore his sanity.
Phil is more than just a white guy & I am more than just a black guy. We are two people who found what we had in common & made a friendship out of it.
I am proud to call Phil my friend.