We Are More Alike, Than We Are Unalike – Maya Angelou
My family is going through Olympic withdrawal. Well, O.K., not really. But we watched the events we were interested in and rooted for Team U.S.A. Of course, Michael Phelps stole the show, and Ryan Lochte stole the…well, let’s not go there. At any rate, it was interesting.
What continues to stick with me, though, is the catchy phrase in one of the commercials (I don’t remember which commercial) but it’s from Maya Angelou’s “Human Family” poem. As in the commercial, the poem ends with, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” This phrase is repeated twice in both the poem and the commercial. The rhythm is undeniable, and the words unforgettable. The truth is…we are. This made me think back to one of my sociology classes in college, and those human traits that are universal, regardless of the country, village, or tribe in which a person lives: a smile represents happiness; crying signals sadness; and we all need food, water, sunlight, and air to survive. As the poem goes, “In minor ways we differ; in major, we’re the same.” Certainly, in our families we are, to some extent, the same. So, when the “leaders” of a family decide to part ways, their differences should be relatively minor, right? Sadly, depending on the divorce process the couple uses, those minor differences could blow up and out of control. It doesn’t have to be that way.
In the Collaborative divorce process, the goal is to find common ground and focus on the items the divorcing couple agrees on (the “alike” part). “Keep the children out of the middle.” Check. “Let the children attend the same school.” Check. “Make sure everyone’s needs are met.” Check. We focus on similarities, needs, and “alikeness”, and therefore interests
, rather than differences and positions
. We aren’t that different. At least we aren’t that different in major ways. Unique, we are. So, let’s not invent imaginary differences, which can create major conflict. That takes so much negative energy. Using a process that focuses on the positive, the “alikeness” of the two people ending the marriage is certainly more, well, human.
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