Recently, I came across the following quote by St Theresa of Calcutta: “The problem with the world is that we draw our family circle too small,” which really got me thinking. At first, a lot of extremities came to mind. We’ve had holocaust in the past and now most recently ISIS. Then we have some things that land somewhere in the middle such as Hillary vs Trump supporters. Finally, there is myself. Just where exactly am I willing to draw the family line?
Instead of making it a binary choice of whoever is not with me, must obviously be against me, how about I start with a default supposition that everyone IS my family. What would that mean to me? Is that too naïve? Let’s make it more real … Is an ISIS fighter my family?
I don’t remember a whole lot from high school knowledge wise, but one of the quotes that has stuck with me ever since came from the first paragraph of Great Gatsby: “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you had.”
The irony here is that even though I’ve always known it, or at least since high school officially, it is only now in my mid thirties that I can honestly say I’m somewhere close to living it. Why is that? One clue comes from the fact that we tend think better of ourselves, because we judge ourselves based on our intentions, not necessarily the results. However, when it comes to others, we judge them by our perceptions of their results only. No free pass for intentions!
Now bringing it back to me: because I used to never opened up myself to others, I missed what was hidden in plain sight all along in that we ALL do the best we can with the information we’ve been given. That is what makes all of us one and the same. Our oneness if you will.
As such, my intention is to daily extend the very same benefits of doubt I’ve been unconsciously giving myself … to others …. And even though an ISIS fighter is still a stretch for me, I am amazed by the countless amounts of unnecessary stress that this choice has proactively eliminated in my life. But it actually goes far beyond that. It’s a snowball effect in that the more open-minded I am, the more connected I become to others, which in turn enables me to continually expand my family circle.
So where do you draw your family circle? Is there an opportunity to expand it?