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Looking past the election: Who are we?

When I was a young child growing up in Vancouver, B.C., we had a fruit tree growing in our backyard on 7th Street. Actually, it was two fruit trees, one a pear tree and the other a plum tree, but it looked like one tree. Seedlings from each variety had taken root together and each tree had struggled to occupy the same patch of earth for many years. Finally, for reasons of survival, they resolved their strife by entwining themselves around each other in such a way as to reach their full growth together, appearing now to be one tree.

As a boy, I could climb up into the upper branches and sit in the crotch of a large limb and pick ripe fruit, pears off one limb, plums off another.

I often think back on those two trees, growing as one. What a lesson there was in that simple act of accommodation. Lessons that should be learned by us all on international as well as personal levels. Both trees wanted to preserve their identity. Both trees had a destiny to fulfill. Both trees wanted to possess what ground was necessary to its own growth exclusively. And each did exactly that by sharing what was ultimately essential for its own survival.

So who are we?

We are Catholics and Protestants. We are Israelis and Palestinians. We are Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds. We are Muslims and Christians. We are believers and non-believers. We are white and black and brown and yellow and red. We are gay and straight. We are all human beings struggling to find our own human growing space. That space is here, together on this small planet. Ultimately, if we are to survive, we must bear our fruit together, as one.

We are the beneficiaries of those acts of nature that teach us how to live with one another. Two trees were able to bridge their differences, and in the process, embrace. How can we do less?

Ronald Talney is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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