Love and Difference

Photo by Wendi Gratz, Flickr Creative Commons

How do we reconcile love and difference? It’s a question we all must confront at some point or other, whether as fellow citizens, friends, siblings, daughters, sons, spouses, or parents.

Particularly as parents. How we face this question doesn’t just affect us. It sculpts those born to trust in our guidance, love, and example.

As Jim Sinclair, a prominent Autism activist, points out:

Photo by Petra Gagilas, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Petra Gagilas, Flickr Creative Commons

“A lot of the time, the question of parenthood is: What do we validate in our kids, and what do we ‘cure’ in them … When parents say, ‘I wish my child did not [X],’ what they’re really saying is, ‘I wish the child I have did not exist, and that I had a different … child instead.’ Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure: that your fondest wish for us is that someday we will cease to be, and strangers you could love would move in behind our faces.”

It’s a gut-wrenching statement. But as harsh as it is, there’s a note of truth in it, isn’t there? As for those people we’re wishing away, those people begotten both of us, of themselves, and of factors beyond us both:

“People engage with the life they have. They don’t want to be cured or changed or eliminated. They want to be whomever it is that they’ve come to be … Don’t accept subtractive models of love—only additive ones … In the same way as we need species diversity to ensure that the planet can go on, so we need this diversity of affection and diversity of family in order to strengthen the ecosphere of kindness.”

Here’s the full TED Talk by Jim. If you have 20 minutes, I highly recommend it.

“Ironically, it turns out, it’s our differences and our negotiation of those differences that unite us.”

How have your own differences been treated? How has that affected your own perceptions of difference and love?

Just a little Monday morning food for thought.

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