This time, it's her turn.
My daughter, the brave and adventurous little lady, charmer, and amiga de todos. She and I are spending a good chunk of our summer in a country that is enormous, diverse, and sensational. We are en México.
In one week, we have been in two different cities, but no matter where she is, one thing stays constant: Mae loves a good playground.
She can't speak with the kids she meets there, beyond greetings and goodbyes, but that matters little to any of them. They communicate through the language of kids at play, which involves silly noises and a great deal of running around for no discernable reason.
Other things she appreciates? Fancy hair accessories, barely practical footwear, cute dresses, and pink nail polish. All things I lost interest in over a quarter of a century ago. So, how does it feel to have such a quintessential daughter who is clearly not a mini me?
Wonderful, that's how. Is that because I secretly love all the girly affectations? Not really. It's because all of those things are a sign that the space around her to determine herself for herself is present and healthy. The less she is like me, the more encouraged I feel that we have something good going on here.
This principle applies to so many differences, with so many people. Beyond "tolerance," or "appreciating diversity," is something else; something unseen, but so important: space. The nothingness that is a right, not a favor granted or sanctioned by me or anyone else. That space in which someone feels free to be something I am not is exactly the same space that allows me to be what I am.
If I needed a selfish reason to accept differences, there it is. I can skip any convention or ceremony I choose, thanks to the freedom someone else enjoys to participate enthusiastically.
Sure sounds good, doesn't it? But everything has its limits, so where does this healthy space start to become harmful? What view or practice is so far from my values that it feels like it shouldn't be acceptable? That's easy. Basically, any view or action which inherently denies or hinders the freedom of self-determination for others. That is the only wrong, and it is how a deep joy for the various ways of dressing, thinking, worshipping, and eating stops before becoming acceptance of bigotry.
Like so many truths, this almost seems at first like a contradiction. All we need to have in common is a belief that we need nothing else in common. Everthing else is just like polish on toenails: superficial, colorful, and subject to change.