Originally Posted by JRiverMartin
And via this development and maturation of empathy over time we discover, for example, that same-sex love is essentially like heterosexual love, and that people of differing so-called "races" also partake of a common human experience, and are essentially alike, etc.... So empathy allows us, over time, to include more and more of humanity, and even of other species, into our kind -- our kindred. Difference doesn't dissolve kindredness, it merely expands it! Most enemies and strangers are so very near to being friends!
I have been accused at times of sharing things that are too personal, and perhaps this is one of those times. "J", your description of the maturation process that we all go through, instantly brought back a memory that is forty years old. I served in the Army in the Republic of South Vietnam in 1969. During that time there was a practice of utilizing some of the captured North Vietnamese soldiers as Scouts for both the US forces and the South Vietnamese forces. My unit had two Scouts assigned for the purpose of identifying and interpreting cryptic symbols and signs left in the jungle by the NVA that we had previously not recognized nor understood. The Scout that worked with my team was a former North Vietnamese First Sergeant that had been wounded, captured and sent to the South for "re-indoctrination." At the end of his twelve months of "political" training he was sent to us. On one particular mission we encountered a heavily armed "Chinese" recon team and the shit hit the fan. When all was said and done a soldier from Alabama that was on my team was killed. During the lull my feelings caught up with me. Our Scout Ti was next to me and we caught each other eyes and both began to sob, embraced and held each other. It was a defining moment for me. It was a moment that determined the direction that I would head, in life, as a man. It was a moment that made me clearly understand that "we" all share a commonality that defines us as one global species. We cry, we bleed, we laugh and love, we long for people, places, things, and we live and die. The differences between all of us are superficial and miniscule. Ti was a man without a country. He gave up his wife and children when he agreed to serve the Republic of the South. He would never be able to return home. I think about him often and wonder if he died in combat after I left Vietnam in 1970. If he survived he was most certainly executed during the fall of the South in the mid Seventies. He was first and foremost human; an equal; a husband, a father, and a soldier. He forever captured a place in my heart. As you so clearly stated "differences do not dissolve kindredness.