We were friends. We were of different political persuasions. And, he taught my daughter and me the lesson of a lifetime.
It all started as my daughter was visiting me at my office. My friend, who was a former elected official, also worked with me there and when my daughter saw him, she wanted to shake his hand. So, we walked over and I introduced her to him.
He was generous, as always, and took her hand in a friendly manner and said, “Nice to meet you.”
My daughter responded with something like, “You’re in the wrong party!”
I have to tell you that at that moment, I was worried how my friend would react to her statement. But, I had nothing to fear. I watched as his faced softened and he became gentler than I had ever seen him before.
“I think we believe in the same things,” he said.
“Do you think people should be free to do the things they want to do?” she said.
“I believe that.” he said.
Then she continued down a list of principles in which she believed and he replied to each in the same tender way. Finally, he said, “Isn’t it great to know we have so much in common?”
We both shook his hand warmly as we departed. Now all three of us were friends. Our manufactured labels no longer mattered. They would never matter between us again, all because this man was kind, gentle and sharing. He looked at us face-to-face and taught us that we had more in common than we supposed.
Something important happens when we engage with each other eye-to-eye. It allows us to see emotion, authenticity and softness. Meeting person-to-person establishes the fact that we naturally share a significant baseline — humanity.
My friend became more than a public figure to us in a few moments because he responded to a little girl’s comment with humanity, gentle communication and compassion. He will forever be our friend. We know who he is. We know what be believes. We know he is more like us than any label would suggest. He changed our lives face-to-face.
We can all change each other’s lives by following his example. Let’s talk with each other person-to-person, face-to-face, in gentle tones so we can discover that we have much more in common than difference, so we can become friends.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.