The Gift of Our Differences

I met my friend Amy when we were both summer law clerks at the same firm in San Fransisco.

We had approximately nothing in common. Different backgrounds, interests, thoughts on eating meat, political beliefs, family lives, faiths…

Fortunately, we did both like smart ass comments, food, running, and adventures. Oh, and bacon, because even a vegetarian like Amy knows the wonder of bacon. And so, a friendship was born.

Twelve years later, I could not be more grateful for her friendship. I have learned so much from her perspective that is often so different than mine.

One topic we have discussed many times is anti-Semitism. An important issue for Amy, who is Jewish. I had absolutely zero idea that anti-Semitism even existed in this country, much less how pervasive it is and how hurtful it can be to our Jewish neighbors and friends. I have felt guilty for my absolute lack of knowledge on this subject and I’ve appreciate Amy’s patience when so often my response is “I have never in my life heard anyone believe this way!” “How can this be happening in America, it sounds like Germany in WW2.” Just because I don’t see it, sure does not mean it’s not happening. My heart has broken for the Jewish community because of what I have learned.

It’s been a real gift to be able to hear someone who I trust and respect explain views I may not agree with or hold. (I’d venture to guess we may never have voted for the same candidate!) To explain different points of view. To describe pain and prejudice I have never known.

I have learned. I have empathized. I hope I have become more in tune with injustices to which I was blind. I have rethought some of my own beliefs and opinions. I have become a better person because of our conversations.

In addition to our friendship, our differences have been a real gift. Maybe that’s been the most important lesson of all.

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