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We are more alike than different

It has been a strange two weeks. I went to the first Razorback game and stayed with the best man at my wedding. We had a great time at the game (other than it being a scorcher). I took my 5-year-old to our first game together and I was a proud papa at how interested he was in the game. 

The next day, a rubber oil hose busted on my wife's car. It had been not recalled, but whatever is right below a recall that gets you a free replacement. We always get her car's oil changed at the dealer (I do my own), but no one ever told us about the technical service bulletin. We wound up staying an extra night with my friends, whose toddler was sick; they cheerfully accepted the turn of fate. 

Do things happen for a reason? When I picked up the car, I dropped by my friend's house to pick up a Hog foam finger and Hog nose my son had left there. As it turns out, my friend got curious about his own car, found three recalls (including for airbags), and made an appointment to get them fixed. 

My younger son started school Tuesday of that week, and Hilary is now taking a more active role at the firm. She's been a real help to the whole firm, although getting used to the change in schedules has been an adjustment that has required some serious effort at getting straight. 

A friend of ours from law school had a pretty dark depressive episode earlier this week. Hilary was able to use her mental toolset to intervene and help out from across the country. 

Meanwhile, in the world, we have the potential for conflict in Syria, a third war in a decade halfway across the world. Facebook tells me my friends have wildly different and polarized views on this as well as other political issues.

However, the point isn't that we're having a weird month — that's just backdrop. As I was driving to work from my son's school today, a thought popped into my head: as Americans, we're all more alike than different. Growing up in Arkadelphia, I went to public schools along with just about everyone else regardless of race or creed. I went to law school with a Muslim Egyptian from California, a Jewish guy from Philadelphia, several folks from overseas, and just about everything in between. And we all got along for the most part. There were times of trouble, like the deaths of classmates, stress of getting good grades and good jobs for the summers and after graduation. We came together in times of adversity.

Example: When I was 17 and a senior in high school, a tornado hit Arkadelphia. I vividly remember a few days later when this kid, who had been picking on my little brother and I had confronted a few months earlier, showed up at my house to help clean up. I don't know if that guy ever learned how much I appreciated him, how truly brave it was of him, to show up despite our differences.

Another example: I found out recently that a college scholarship I received after the tornado was in honor of a friend's 8th-grade sister she lost to the winds at 22, along with her mother and stepfather. Although we were both from Arkadelphia, I didn't meet this friend until I moved back in 2009 and never made the connection until now. Here this girl was, losing her immediate family, yet still making an effort to help others. I was really overcome when I found out last weekend — it brought back of flood of memories about all the people in my life who took the time to care and keep me on the right path when it would have been easier for them to let me veer off.

As ordinary Americans, we know how to come together. Our morals come from creeds more ancient than written history has recorded. For the most part, the beliefs of everyday Americans are focused on family, health, and prosperity, usually in that order. In my view, different religions offer slightly different lenses through which to view those morals — it is like changing a spice in a recipe, rather than a major ingredient. Democrats, Republicans, hippies, suits, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindi, atheists — every American I know wants the best for their families and their friends. The tie that binds us is that we're American and we believe in the power of humanity to do the right thing (even if our politicians want to try everything else first). 

So, thank you for helping. Thank you for coming together with your neighbors and perfect strangers to offer your presence, gifts, and guidance. Your help may be the most important thing a person ever receives.