If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, you're living in a world divided -- from presidential and personal politics to whether or not women should be marching -- opinions are many, tolerance is low and tension is high. Somehow we've forgotten that our experiences shape who we are and how we think.
The girl-next-door who grew up on a farm in Kansas has an entirely different outlook on life than the diva from Boston. That’s just the way it is.
However, beautiful things happen when the girl from Kansas and the diva from Boston sit down for coffee one day and bond over their husbands deploying at the same time. Time passes; you get to know each other and your lives -- though very different -- start to intersect. But make no mistake, during the months of that deployment, meeting for coffee turns into Friday movie nights and weekend playdates for the kids. That coffee “date” turns into her becoming the emergency contact at your kid’s school. She becomes who you call when the tears won’t stop and you just want the deployment or training or TDY or fill-in-the-blank to be over.
During that time you’ve gotten to know all the things that make your new friend her. You now are familiar with her experiences, and she yours. Some of your world views may evolve and some will stay the same.
Both of you are changed and often for the better, all because you were willing to get to know one another without judgment.
We have a unique opportunity, you and I, to really lean into people of all walks of life. Being in the military community means we have access to 1000 pieces of American puzzle. If we’re looking to understand a social situation, the military probably has less than 3 degrees of separation to someone who has been there and can give an objective point of view.
On January 20th, America reset itself. Regardless of your political affiliations, one thing that has been called for the most in our country is to somehow truly become the United States of America again.
The truth is the Military Family has always been a model of how to remain united, even when you’re so drastically different.
We don’t shy away from getting to know each other. We are the 1% of the population that could very well have lived in every corner and the middle of America, while throwing in some time in Europe in between. Military families understand that experiences rule our belief system and we have plenty of both.
There is no room for judging your neighbor when you’re all trying to appreciate the time you have until the next time your spouse goes away. And while they’re gone, you want to fill those empty moments with getting to know other people who can relate, even if they don’t look like you or think like you on every subject.
We don’t approach conversation with the (wrong) notion that we can change minds or that they could change ours. There’s common knowledge that although we may not do things the same and may not agree on some issues, we are all on the same team. That never wavers. And while our spouses might not see eye-to-eye politically or religiously, you'd better believe they stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the battlefield, 100% committed to keeping one another alive.
Several years ago, when our Army Group relocated to another base, thousands of families moved to a new area within a few months of each other. As we were getting settled and found each other, nothing else mattered other than the fact that you were a part of that Unit. White, black, Hispanic, no matter your religious background or where you were from, all were welcome with opened arms. We bonded over the fact that we were all experiencing the same transition and as we got to know each other a true sense of family emerged.
Even with all of our different backgrounds, languages and cultures we rallied around one another when needed. We also knew without a shadow of doubt that we had some common ground. We were literally on the same team -- and the same rings true for the military community as a whole.
We also know the same is true for our family and friends outside of the military. There is common ground there. It is possible to talk things out, learn from each other and disagree respectfully. We just have to continue being the example.
So thank you, once again military families for leading the charge. For being the example of what it means to literally be the United States of America, in living color.
P.S. We reserve the right to not be united once yearly…during Army vs. Navy Football week. (Go Army!)