“They didn't recognize me," I repeat. He stops in turn, my hand still on his arm. "It is because they have never seen you," he says. "I would recognize you anywhere.” ―
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
This is what love for humanity is for me. Because there really are no true enemies or 'others'. We are all on this journey together, and it is in seeing each other, really seeing, that we allow compassion, empathy, and love to flow from us to them. I'm grateful for those in my life who 'see' me. And I endeavor to work harder at 'seeing' others.
(I highly recommend Barery's book, and the movie that followed, The Hedgehog, for more wonderful gems like the one above.)
My search for images of a hedgehog led me here, and this line jumped out at me: "Hedgehogs teach the value of friendship with those who are different from you." All of my life I have had friends of all types, and a variety of different persuasions of religion, politics, or backgrounds, points of view, and vastly different experiences. I'm the person that maintains friendships for decades, honoring the connection to my past as well as the lessons learned over the years, and open to what we might be able to learn from each other to this day (the decades long friendship with my childhood friend, Rani, is a good case in point.) I credit this in part to moving around a lot in a Navy family, both as a child and as an adult.
I have almost always been able to find value in each person I meet, even if I don't necessarily agree with them about one thing or another (or a lot of things...) I realize that this is what makes it difficult for me when someone cuts me out of their life. Where I accept differences and disagreements as a natural part of being in relationships with others, some people feel more comfortable cutting out those people who rub them the wrong way or present a different perspective or point of view. Not everyone wants to bridge the gap, but rather prefer to burn the bridge. I have always found this difficult to accept. I prefer to have a conversation and clear the air, because I value people in my life. I realize that we, all of us, when confronted with a difficult relationship, are often responding to an aspect of ourselves we see in others. We choose to acknowledge that aspect of ourselves and, in doing so, accept it in both us and them; or, we deny relationship with that other, and in doing so, dishonor that part of ourselves.
Funny how a prickly little animal and a book led to this train of thought. Thanks, hedgehog.