The greatest people are those who love others. And this is exemplified in the relationship between parents and children. Normal parents and children love each other without question. A healthy relationship involves acceptance, toleration, concern, caring and mutual support. These and other qualities are given out in the family automatically. Even people who have difficulties with their spouses continue to love their children. Many people today who are not married have children through adoption or the other alternatives for the expressed purpose of having someone to love unconditionally. Therefore, the parent child relationship is the ideal example of the love that should be shone to all people by all people.
Most of us consider there to be an instant bond with a family member. In other words, my third cousin twice removed is family, which makes him different from other people. I find this strange. A cousin we haven’t seen in years comes back into our lives and instantly becomes ‘family’. We should immediately conclude that there is a bond between us? The old saying, blood is thicker than water comes to mind. What also comes to mind are some questions. How do we know we are going to get along with this person? How do we know that we are going to care for this family member? Just because a person is ‘family’, does that mean I am going to love him/her? According to the norms of society the answer to these questions should be yes. But, from what I have seen from the people around me the answer to all of these questions is, not necessarily.
I have cousins that I haven’t seen since I was a child. I found out at the age of thirty that my mom was adopted. So are these so-called cousins on my mom’s side my family? They were called ‘family’ when I was young. But since finding out about the adoption, the relationship is fuzzy. They are not ‘blood’ relatives. If I call someone family does that make them family? If I don’t, does that make them strangers? I hope that you can see, deciding who is family and who isn’t can be a very complicated thing. By why should it be?
Let’s see if I can confuse you even further. I have an almost cousin in my family. That’s right, she is my almost cousin. She is related to my half-brother on his mother’s side. I have a different mother than he does, and so Terry is my brother’s cousin but not mine. Terry and I grew up together and somewhere along the way we decided that we are almost cousins. Can anyone tell us we’re not related? If we say we’re family, then we are.
Consider this question. Why do we put up with more aggravation from our blood relatives than from anyone else? Have you noticed this? I have seen terrible behavior between family members. But they would never take that kind of stuff from a stranger. I have a friend who is used by her sister all of the time. The only time she has contact is when the sister needs something. A ride someplace, help at home, borrow some money. Then she’s gone and she doesn’t hear from her sister until the next time that she needs something. This lady would not put up with this from a stranger. She would not accept this behavior from a neighbor. She puts up with it because it’s family.
So why don’t we give people other than our family the same slack? Why don’t we put up with garbage from strangers? Think about it. We have a connection to our family, and so we tend to forgive a little more and be a little more understanding. Or we bury the anger and frustration we feel because its family. But with a total stranger there is no connection. There is no history. There is no relationship. And it’s that time tested relationship that allows us to be forgiving, patient and trusting.
Why does their need to be a relationship in order for people to love and forgive each other? Think of how powerful it would be if we thought about the relationship we all share through our humanity. Think of how wonderful it would be if we considered ourselves related because of our universal Father in heaven.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
I believe that someday the earth will be populated by a majority of people who extend parental love towards everyone. I feel it is the next logical in the development of humanity. People around the world are increasingly aware of the suffering of people around them. There is a desire to alleviate the pain of people in places that are foreign to us. The desire to “do unto others” is growing all around us. Why not take the next step and love everyone as if they were family? Is there really a great difference between a neighbor and a cousin? Is there so much of a gap between a person with different colored skin and a person with the same? Why do we treat the people we call family with greater love and respect then a stranger? Especially when some of our family we see less often than people we see at the checkout line in the grocery store. I think that someday the majority of people will see the wisdom of considering all of humanity to be related – not just biologically- but related in a familiar way. That will be a great day for our world. That will be the day when everyone is considered family.
There is one word of warning I must give to you. Trying to treat everyone as family is opening the door to rejection. Not everyone is going to respond to our overtures of friendship and love in a positive way. I am a minister and I try to reach out to everyone in my church. But many people who have a connection to the church have not responded to me in a positive way. Some people have left the church; others just don’t bother with us anymore. Trying to open the door of friendship and love to another person means occasionally having the door slammed in your face. That’s just the way it is.
I have a lot of faith in people, maybe too much. It’s going to take a lot of time for things to sort themselves out and change for the better. I hope to see some progress in my lifetime, but maybe not. I still think that given enough time, people will create a new and better world. A world in which everyone will extend love to the whole human family.