Love Breaks Down the Walls of Difference

by Mark Miles

Sometimes it’s tempting to believe that living separately from others who are noticeably different is a good thing. This idea has been present in our society for a long time, and under the current US presidential administration it’s gaining renewed emphasis. While the wall that Trump plans to build along the Mexico-US border is superficially about keeping immigrants out, it’s also about keeping the rest of us in — in boxes, ghettos, suburbs, strip malls, and prisons of our own making. It’s about making sure that all of us color inside the lines, think inside the margins, and live inside the repressive excuse for a free society that our leaders have built. In short, it’s about turning our entire society into a giant penal colony.

But there are other ways to live. There are ways to live that integrate people of other races and ethnicities without degrading anyone’s quality of life. There are ways to live that respect the distinctness of each culture without requiring that members of each culture live in clearly defined and virulently policed ghettos. There are ways to live that are close to nature, that embrace the importance of diversity, and that engender harmony among people of many backgrounds. For my own small part, I’ve tried to model this way of life with my cat Heidi and my dog Bella.

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When Heidi came to live with me in October of 2014, she was an antisocial mess. She peed and pooped where she wasn’t supposed to, tore up my bedsheets, tried to attack Bella, stayed up at all hours of the night, drew blood from my arm, and generally made life miserable. Under the circumstances I was tempted to put her in her kennel and never let her out again. It was my moment of angst, in which repression seemed the more manageable solution and integration seemed untenable. But something inside me rebelled at the thought of locking up a living being for any duration longer than absolutely necessary. I wanted to do the right thing; and so I allowed myself and Heidi and Bella to continue to interact without resorting to boxes and barriers in general, making sure that boundaries were respected at all times.

It wasn’t always pleasant or easy, but it was the right thing to do. Whereas Heidi and Bella would frequently come within a hair’s breadth of mauling one another in the first weeks after I got Heidi, they did eventually begin to mellow. Over the course of months Heidi began to sit on the couch and the loveseat with Bella in a state of calm attentiveness from time to time, and Bella allowed the intrusion on her furniture without too much fuss. As months turned into a year, they could occasionally be found sitting within inches of one another, tentatively inspecting one another and always keeping one eye peeled for a sudden move from the other. Then, after two years, something slightly miraculous happened.

It was a month ago. Heidi and Bella were sitting on the couch drinking in the early morning sun, at closer proximity than usual. Heidi as usual was the one to initiate a move when the sunlight started to shift position. Bella was too relaxed to make any objection, and I was too preoccupied with making breakfast to take note of how things were going on the couch. Then I happened to walk past the two of them on my way to the front door, and I saw this unprecedented sight. Heidi was spread out right next to Bella, side by side, with her head on Bella’s forelegs, licking her sister with the affection of a puppy. It was hard to believe what I saw, but that was when I knew my love for both of them — which had prevented me from walling them off from each other — had paid off.

And that was also when I began to appreciate in greater depth how love stands in direct opposition to fear. It’s fear that motivates us to avoid others who look different, who wear unusual clothes, who speak other languages, or who simply don’t have the money to buy all the worthless junk that our society considers essential for success. It’s fear that motivates us to build walls, to shut people out of our lives, to live in socioeconomic bubbles in which the only kinds of people we come into contact with are carbon copies of ourselves. It’s fear that lies at the heart of Trump’s Wall, and the only answer to fear is love. For it’s only when we love one another from the depths of our souls that we find the strength to tear down any and every wall that stands between us. And it’s a love I know because of my darlings, Heidi and Bella.

References:

American Psychological Association; Ethnic and Racial Minorities and Socioeconomic Status; accessed March 22nd, 2017.

Semuels, Alana; “The Resurrection of America’s Slums”; The Atlantic; accessed March 22nd, 2017.

Unruh, Bob; “Pew: Divide in America Deeper than Ever Before”; WND; accessed March 22nd, 2017.

Vaidyanathan, Rajini; Why Don’t Black and White Americans Live Together; BBC News; accessed March 22nd, 2017.

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31 thoughts on “Love Breaks Down the Walls of Difference

  1. angelasommers March 25, 2017 / 4:19 am

    I have come to really appreciate your blog and what you write about. Loved this story and the pictures. Thanks for sharing, and have a great day! 🙂

    • Mark Miles March 27, 2017 / 4:18 am

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words. Have a good week. 👋

  2. Keng March 25, 2017 / 6:25 am

    Beautiful post Mark. Couldn’t agree with you more. Love the sisterly love.

    • Mark Miles March 27, 2017 / 4:18 am

      Thank you, my friend. Glad you enjoyed it. Have a lovely week ahead. 👍

  3. Mel & Suan March 25, 2017 / 6:31 am

    We’ve always though cats and dogs don’t get along! LOL.
    If Heidi and Bella can come together, we can’t see why we as people cannot get along!

    • Mark Miles March 27, 2017 / 4:20 am

      Yeah, it seems obvious to me that if two animals of entirely separate species can cooperate, then we humans have no excuse for our collective bickering and antipathy.

  4. cathysrealcountrygardencom March 26, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    My brother and sister cats appear to hate each other, until they are left totally alone and then they turn to each other, groom each other and sleep with each other! Nice post.

    • Mark Miles March 27, 2017 / 4:25 am

      Thank you. It’s funny how animals often change their personalities depending on the circumstances in which they find themselves.

    • Mark Miles March 27, 2017 / 4:26 am

      Thank you, my friend. Love is what it all comes down to at the end of the day. 👍

  5. usathroughoureyes March 26, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    This was such a great post Mark. Good points. Love is so important in all we do but then again isn’t this what God said we are to do. I wonder why we fall short at times, lol.

    • Mark Miles March 27, 2017 / 4:28 am

      Thank you for your kind words. It’s so true; there are so many things in our society that get in the way of what really matters. And that’s why it’s so important to remove the things that don’t matter, whether a wall or collective apathy.

      Have a good week. 👋

      • usathroughoureyes March 27, 2017 / 2:20 pm

        So true Mark. You also have a great week.

  6. trashonthemonocacy March 27, 2017 / 2:42 pm

    I’m so happy to see that they’re getting along! On another note, I appreciate that way you list your references at the end of every post.

    • Mark Miles April 10, 2017 / 6:15 am

      Thank you, I’m trying to be diligent about my sources. Have a great week, my friend.

  7. ArtReach April 7, 2017 / 1:10 am

    Thanks Mark for an encouraging post! I look forward to reading more. And thanks for visiting my blog.

  8. mycountryepoque April 8, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    I love Bella and Heidi, they are both very sweet and pretty. Your post was true, and very interesting, and you nailed it very well. It was a good read

    • Mark Miles April 10, 2017 / 6:28 am

      Thank you again. Heidi and Bella are wonderful teachers, even if they haven’t quite mastered English yet.

  9. pennygadd51 April 13, 2017 / 7:06 am

    Much truth in this post, Mark, and well written too.

  10. mylittlefarmintown April 15, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    Our first kitty, Bert, had this kind of relationship with our daughter at one point. He would smack her on the head with claws drawn to get her to yelp so that I would get out of bed and give him what he wanted. We all worked with him and eventually worked it out. I wouldn’t say it was sisterly love–more like sibling rivalry finally under control. LOL

  11. thecunninghamjourney May 17, 2017 / 5:31 am

    Mark… this couldn’t have been more beautifully written! I could see this written to President Trump himself to possibly convert his thinking from the fears he faces everyday towards all human kind. May Lord truly bless and use you for great things!

    • Mark Miles May 22, 2017 / 3:55 am

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words.

  12. Success Inspirers' World May 21, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    This is well written. I like your line of thought. We don’t want walls. We want bridges.

  13. tinagk October 3, 2017 / 4:38 am

    Some great insights! Much to ponder there. And thank you for the “Like” on my poem. *smiles*

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