We Are More Alike, My Friends, Than We Are Unalike

August 5, 2016

Apple created an ad for their “Shot on iPhone” campaign using a portion of Maya Angelou’s “Human Family” poem that will air for the first time during the Olympics Games Rio 2016 opening ceremonies tonight on NBC.

I love the ending line of the poem: We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.

Shortly after I began dating Ashten, she said she couldn’t wait to introduce me to her best friend, Tim Harris.

Ashten and Tim had been friends for years. They met at Eldorado High School, and she helped him get his first job at Red Robin.

When I met Tim for the first time, I quickly learned for myself why Ashten considered him to be her best friend. Tim has Downs Syndrome. But that’s not why Ashten and Tim became such good friends.

Tim is full of compassion. He is full of love. He is full of patience. Understanding. But he doesn’t just offer those attributes to a select few. He offers that type of friendship to anyone who is willing to be his friend.

By the end of our first conversation together, Tim announced that I was now his “best friend”.

Considering the fact that he gave me the beloved title that Ashten had previously held, I immediately told Ashten, “You just got replaced!”

But then Tim corrected me. He said, “No. Ashten is my best friend, too.”

At first I was confused. You can only have one best friend, right? But the more I got to know Tim, the more I was able to hear about each of his “best friends”. Nearly every person he considered to be a friend at all was also given the title of “best friend”.

When I asked Tim how he could call so many different people his best friends, he said, “I might have a disability, but I have the ability to be your best friend.”

I said, “But how can everybody be your best friend?” He replied, “Because I love everyone. We are more alike than different.”

It got me thinking. Why do we create such hierarchies in our friendships? Why not just label every friend as a best friend?

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were in life, He responded by saying we should love God and love others. He did not say to pick and choose whom we should love.

When Ashten and I travelled to Cancun for our wedding in 2009, Tim Harris joined us along with 40 other family members and friends.

Initially Ashten and I had planned on having bridesmaids and groomsmen included in our wedding ceremony. But Tim inspired us to just love all of our friends the same rather than create a hierarchy of who’s who within our own wedding. After all, when one friend is labeled as a “Maid of Honor” and another friend is just a “Bridesmaid”, feelings can get hurt. Relationships can be destroyed. The same goes on the guys’ side when one friend is labeled as a “Best Man” when others are just “Groomsmen”.

We wanted our wedding to be a time when friends were honored, not segregated. So instead of having Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, we made all the guys Best Men and all the ladies Maids/Matrons of Honor. They were all our best friends.

It seems lately that so many tragedies like Orlando and Dallas have taken place as a result of people focusing on our differences. But in honor of the Olympics launching tonight, Friendship Day this Sunday, and my best friend Tim, I want to encourage you to be more loving. Be more accepting. Make more best friends.

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.Jesus

 

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