“Siblings: children of the same parents, each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.”
― Sam Levenson
One of the great things about my relationship with my siblings is how different we are. If you line us up we look nothing alike, we’re a perfect hodgepodge of kin features in that we all look like some member of our extended family, but nothing like one another. One brother and I both took degrees in history, but mine was in medieval Europe, his in 20th century America. Another brother is thinking about going into medicine, while the youngest sister is focused on art and languages. We have few overlapping interests or hobbies. One of the boys is a fairly proud dandy, the other a self-proclaimed man’s man. Some of us are religious, others aren’t. We also run the political gamut: the girls are liberal, though each of us have different pet policy concerns, one brother is libertarian, the other is very conservative.
And you know what? We get along.
Oh yes, we argue–it’s practically a requirement in our household–we debate, we disagree forcefully. But we also just talk, share ideas or interesting facts, set out our opinions, and back them up–also a requirement in our household. And we usually are able to say, “I disagree, but I see where you’re coming from,” and move on to the next conversation or activity with no acrimony.
Over the weekend I got a call from my sister at 2am (mild panic attack there) excitedly asking for feedback in crafting a sign she was carrying to DC to protest the Immigration Ban. Later that same day I felt the need to sense check myself about a piece of military policy news, specifically that the National Security Council had been restructured and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff effectively demoted in the council and chief strategist Mr. Bannon elevated over them. Bleeding heart liberal I may be, but I’m also a military brat whose father has served all over the world, including the Pentagon. I believe that this change is downright bad and the preference of a media strategist over a four star general in regularly discussing and determining military policy absurd. I knew right away what my opinion was, but I wanted to check in with my conservative brother, currently active duty in the Air Force and combat experienced, to see if his experience and perspective could add any nuance to my pretty instantaneous negative reaction. We ended up having a great chat about our opinions of the new administration and political trends.
That was my Sunday. Monday I attended a immigration ban protest myself outside of Downing Street after work. Put together, it was a good reminder that as I work to be more involved in the causes I care about, to signal boost what I think needs to be promoted and decry what I believe to be wrong, there are good and intelligent people doing the same across the aisle from me. And that, as different as we are, by communicating well and committing respect and debate, we often find surprising overlaps and common causes.
Unless we’re talking board games. Then it’s scorched earth war.