I remember playing a game involving secrets when I was little. My first recollection of this game was at Girl Scouts. I was probably around ten years old. A group of us sat in a circle, including one of the leaders. We were instructed to repeat what was whispered to us, word for word, making absolutely certain we said every word the same. Of course, we all thought it was a memory game so we tried our hardest to do just that.
We began with the leader. She read off of a card and whispered into the ear of the child next to her. Then, that child whispered to the next, and so on until we had worked our way around to the last person in the circle. That last person said the secret out loud. Then, the leader read what was written on her card—the first words to pass around the circle.
Each time I played this game, I was so surprised. The ending words were nothing like the first words and I mean nothing! It was hard to believe that such changes could take place when every person there tried her very hardest to recite the words exactly as they were recited to her. What the heck happened?
Now, zoom forward a few years to middle school. On Friday after school, Janie told Annie her deepest secret and made her pinkie swear not to tell anyone else since Annie was her very best friend in the whole world. Of course, Annie was bursting to tell someone–it was such big news— so she only told her very best friend in the whole world, Julie. Julie simply couldn’t believe her ears and just had to tell someone or she would surely explode so she blurted Janie’s secret out to Donna. Donna had lots of friends so she told them all.
On Monday morning, as Janie was walking into school, a boy name Carl came up to her and asked, “is it true you are pregnant?”
The original secret was that Janie had finally started her period…later than most of her friends, so she was not only excited and relieved, but also a little embarrassed. Little did she know that she would [reputedly] be pregnant by Monday!
My guess is that we all know someone who that happened to, if not yourself. A story gets twisted and turned every which way between the people it touches. Here’s the thing though, it is very possible that nobody has any ill intent at any time. True, we shouldn’t gossip and we definitely shouldn’t repeat secrets we are trusted to keep; however, the transformation of the words themselves is a very natural thing.
We are all 100% a product of our upbringing. Our life experiences not only influence the way we live, the choices we make, the spouse (or lack of) that we choose, but they also influence the way we see and hear things. Look at this random picture below:
I snapped this picture with my Blackberry this morning after my walk at the park. What do you see when you look at this picture? Do you see the beam of sunlight giving one of those ‘ladders to Heaven?” Do you see the stained glass window of the church? Do you see the flag on the house that resembles ‘IU’? How about the red truck—have you always wanted a red truck? Or a Harley (yep, there’s one of those too.)? Maybe you saw all of the electrical and telephone wires? Or maybe you wondered why they put a park near such a busy road?
What we see comes from within. Even though the picture is the same to all eyes, how we view it is based upon our own life experiences or desires. Maybe you lost someone last year and on that very day, you saw a ‘ladder to Heaven’ that you are certain was your loved one making their journey to Heaven. Maybe you spent weeks without power last winter and cursed the fact that your wires were not buried. Or maybe you heard a story about a little boy who got hit crossing the road to the park where his friends were calling him to play baseball.
This viewpoint, no matter how convoluted it may seem to some, is our truth. I will never forget when the movie ‘Titanic‘ came out. Steve and I were dating and our daughters wanted to go. We ended up taking a big group of sophomore girls. Steve thoroughly enjoyed the movie for its historic value and our girls were swooning over the love affair between Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet. Me, I left the theater in a full blown panic attack, sobbing, shortly after it began. I never got past the abuse–when Kate Winslet’s onscreen husband was hitting her in their room—I lost it. My truth.
When you think of things in this manner, it seems almost hopeless that any two people could ever see anything the same way. But I ask, why do we need to? Isn’t it simply amazing that there are so many ways to look at the same thing? As long as we have respect for the opinion of others, we can peacefully live our truth and let others do the same. I think Paul McCartney said it before me, “live and let live”—of course, he changed his mind before the end of the song, but we won’t think about that!
So, I challenge you this week to embrace the full beauty of a different opinion, be it from a loved one or a complete stranger. Remember where that opinion originates, and while you may not agree with it in any way, try to remain unbiased and allow the speaker to tell you their truth. After all, doesn’t the greatest beauty in this world lie in the diversity of it’s people?
I hope that tomorrow, election day, is met with open minds, open hearts, and ultimately, acceptance—of the results of our sovereign electoral process, with grace. It is time for the war of words and division of our peoples to end.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou