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Share a meal with someone in your family you don't usually break bread with.

22 March 2009 No Comment

Level: Family—Peace Principle: Cooperation

This week’s featured story came in from Washington, DC, USA:

Liora Herman

Liora Herman

Being a single young professional, I often eat alone in front of the television. But last night, I felt the warmth and unconditional love that only family can provide. The food was mediocre but the conversation, insight, and support I received was amazing. My dinner companions were my great aunt and great uncle, an inspirational couple who just celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary. Yes 64 years! Can you imagine? They have lived adventurous and fulfilling lives and even in retirement they continue to inspire.

As I drove the 45 minutes to their home outside of the city, I contemplated the stories they would tell, any advice I wanted to be sure to ask for, and how eager I was just to be hugged. As I write this I am realizing that America is a country of handshakes and personal space. At times, I feel that I am from a different culture, a culture of two-cheek kisses and sincere embraces. Well, there they were all smiley and buzzing with warmth; so eager to hear about me- my family, my job, my social life, just wanting to be a part of it. But I wanted to hear from them.

All too often we fail to learn from our elders. I am constantly trying to impart my 22 years of wisdom onto my 20 year old sister. I just get rolled eyes most of the time. Why are we so unreceptive to learning from the mistakes of others? I used to give the excuse that times are different now and that we deal with different pressures. But in reality things are not all that different. Men and women still speak different languages, the economy is a major deciding factor in elections, and world peace is something we only dream about.

So after four hours of being the most attentive listener and wishing I had recorded everything they said, what are my lessons learned? Here is the short list:

  1. My 86 year old great uncle has a sharper memory and tongue than I do.
  2. People no longer value the oral story like they used to.
  3. Language really isn’t a barrier it is more of a mental façade.
  4. Travel often and by foot, as walking is the only way to experience a new place.
  5. Love is all we have to live for.
  6. God said it best, “love thy neighbor as thyself”. But don’t forget to love thyself.

It had been several months since I spent time with my great aunt and great uncle. But after leaving their company with such warm fuzzies, a feeling of being balanced and a sense of purpose, I look forward to more frequent encounters.

- Liora Herman, Washington, DC

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