This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending my cousin’s wedding. Family from all over the country gathered in Missouri, where the cooler temperatures and lack of hurricane debris made for a lovely weekend escape. Seeing my extended family was, of course, the highlight, and it got me thinking about the value of family in general. We certainly have similarities, but we are all vastly different people. Some are outgoing center of attention kind of people, while some are introverts who are happy to let the others be that center of attention. Our differences range from our jobs to our level of formal education, religion, political views, parenting styles, sports teams we root for, foods we like, activities we enjoy or greatly dislike, you name it we are different.

My cousin’s wedding is a perfect example of our vast differences. My wedding was in a church, presided over by a priest. One of my cousins played a classical piano piece, others handed out programs, and others read from the bible. My cousin’s wedding was outside, kids were eating cookies and chips as the ceremony began. There was definitely no program, and it was officiated by a psychologist/musician/minister who started the ceremony with an electric guitar solo and later sang “let’s get it on” as part of the vows. Our weddings were very different just as we are very different, but both were beautiful and perfect for each of us.

I think that is just like families. We are all so beautifully unique, and that is a significant part of the value family brings. You get to choose your friends. You don’t get to choose your family, and there is innate value in that lack of choice. Because it helps us understand that a person can be loved and respected even if you disagree with them, and that we all hold equal value regardless of our beliefs, our societal contributions, or even our behaviors.

I think our nation needs a dose of this. I think we all need to remember that there is value in differences. We need to respect other people and their very different points of view. I have been a psychologist long enough to know that deep down we are all way more similar than we are different. So perhaps we need to look harder and love more. I don’t have a particularly Pollyanna view of the world – my fiction makes that clear, but I have to believe that love remains the answer to making the world a better, more peace filled place.

My newest release, Before the Silence, speaks to the political discord taking place before my fictional nation imploded and one man who was so desperately working for peace. Download your free copy here.

With Respect,

Jacqueline

p.s. this picture is of my sister, my niece, and myself at my cousin’s wedding.

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