Between twin-calendar-pillars of love – Valentine’s day and Santes Dwynwen (the welsh patron saint of love) – I thought it timely to consider the four letter word that affects us all, no matter how we use it.
I’m no fan of current events in Washington DC. Lets make that plain from the start. In the appropriate frames I will offer what humble assistance I am able in encouraging more measured, rational and liberal management of the most powerful office in the western world. I feel the same about the Brexit ‘pup’ we have all been sold.
I am, however, reluctant to catastrophise and rant.
I have recently been considering the relationship I had with my father. There was no questioning the love he had for me. Often, his expression of it was, well, clumsy at best! His loyalty to his father meant he parented the way he was shown. In his mind he was doing his best to honour the unspoken pledge he made to me when I was born: to be the best Dad he could be.
He talked straight and strong. He was stubborn, dependable, awesome to a young boy. He marched purposefully around the house singing, smoking and fixing things – I was desperate to win his approval – and rarely seemed to manage it. At least I rarely got the vocal recognition of his approval.
It is easy from a distance, to judge how ‘unenlightened’ his methods were. There was certainly little that was ‘person-centred’ in his approach and, as I revisit the parallel pledge to my son, it’s tempting to promise to cherry-pick only the best of what he offered.
The problem is that loyalty runs deeper than rational thinking. As I begin to consider my judgements I can see his pain, carried loyally for his father, who in turn did the same for his! But I can also see the strength that came out of that pain.
My son is with his mother this weekend. He’s young, still little, just coming to the age where he begins to see the fallibility of those around him. He’s also facing challenges in an education system that doesn’t quite align to his needs. His loyalty is beginning to show too and some of his judgements. Some of his educational challenges mirror those that faced his parents – some he’s developed on his own! He emailed me early evening yesterday saying “why did England have to win” – loyal to his welsh father and his rugby passion too!!
One of the principals I have tried to live by as a journalist, filmmaker and communication consultant has been: “to see everything and judge nothing”. I have disciplined myself to look for meaning in events. I am learning that my judgement is a barrier to understanding. I am experiencing that if I continue to look, rather than judge and turn away, my understanding deepens and more often than not changes.
I have found that discipline easier in work than at home through the years. Its helped keep me safe when facing people who think differently to me or live in circumstances I would find abhorrent.
But my worlds are colliding. I am finding comfort in the knowledge that I am my father’s son and recognising the love behind his clumsy methods! And I am allowing my voice to editorialise over issues with which I disagree.
The most important challenge for me is not to put too much attention on the separation between us all.
I have been lucky enough to travel widely in my career and have met people from many walks of life, from many different backgrounds, belief systems and cultures. What I have found is that there is far more that unites us in our human experience than will ever divide us by class, religion or political persuasion.
So if you don’t find my opinions on Trump, Europe, Syria et al all over social media it is because I am putting my attention on the things I love in my life. Or I am maybe throwing a rugby ball round with my son.