Just Another Version of You

 

If you were to create a bumper sticker that summed up your feelings on life, what would it say? 

Norman Lear, the creator of shows like All in the Family, recently gave a series of interviews about his life in celebration of his ninetieth birthday and when asked what his bumper sticker would be, he said, “Just another version of you.”

            “Just another version of you, and that’s what I think,” Lear said, “We all are versions of each other because we have to come to the understanding that we are one.”

            I think I get why we have to come to that understanding, to diminish hatred, discrimination and cruelty towards others, but I struggle seeing how we come to the understanding that we are one.  I don’t think shouting it from a pulpit or supporting legislation is going to do it.  I guess my answer always comes back to my own behavior.  That the best thing any of us can do is to be our truest selves.  That being our truest self gives us our best shot at a true experience of life.

            To not be hidden, unkindly shy, or disturbed, but unhidden and willing to be a child of God in the fullness of dignity, with no willingness to sacrifice it for social nicety.  I don’t think any of us should underestimate the affect being our truest self has on those around us.

            Emerson said, “We have a great deal more kindness then is ever spoken.”

            It reminds me of a character like Archie Bunker, the central character in All in the Family, who is bigoted and judgmental, and symbolic of an archaic thinking.  Lear based Archie Bunker on his own father, who yes, even referred to Lear as “Meathead.” 

            Yet, the viewer falls in love with Archie because that “kindness” can slip out and earn the heart.  And for Archie, like it or not, that’s his path- to learn that we are all one, that we are all just different versions of each other.

Emerson also said, “Every man alone is sincere, at the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.”

            To be one, we must give ourselves permission to be ourselves.  We must be willing to be vulnerable for we are vulnerable.  We are human beings, sensitive, often unsure and distrusting, and even judgmental. 

We must also understand that we are often different versions of our own self.  I’ve been a buffoon, a hero, a snake and an oaf.  But I’m always willing to be better and here is where the joy of relationships comes in.  When I feel like I am lacking a quality I want to embody in my life, a friend comes forward who seems to embody that quality in just the way I need it.  This is the great blessing of having so many other versions of us out in the world…it is like we return ourselves to ourselves through our most magnificent relationships.

           

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