Monday, October 22

Peace Starts at Home.

There were all sorts of things I was going to tell you today. Mostly about One Young World.

Like how Kofi Annan is the most inspiring speaker I've ever heard in my life (and how that list now includes Bill Clinton too!) How the organizers referred to Carole Stone as Britain's "Queen of Networking," which made me instantly suspicious, but how she turned out to be my favorite counselor -- witty and respectful and no-nonsense and extremely interested in finding out what people were really thinking.

Or how the home dinners, hosted by 200 families throughout Pittsburgh who welcomed all 1200 delegates into their dining rooms, were the very best part because it gave the conference such personality and soul. It shone a big, bright, warm light on Pittsburgh's hospitality. Every delegate I talked with, from Switzerland to Tajikistan to the UK to the Maldives, said that Pittsburgh is the friendliest city they've ever been to. That makes me so, so proud of all the yinzers. We really are a nice bunch.

Or how I met two of the three delegates from Afghanistan, and spent part of the day with them and a female delegate from Bangladesh and learned so much about the issues facing those countries, and how complex they are when looked at from another point of view.

Or how the smaller panel on faith was extremely inspiring, but also unsettling, because I found myself agreeing with statements from speakers of every religious persuasion... except my own. How that makes me worry about baptizing our baby in the Catholic church, even though I still identify as part of that faith. How I feel like the things I find beautiful and true -- the Nicene creed, the Apostle's creed, and Catholic social teaching in particular -- are being nearly forgotten in light of things that I cannot agree with. (This is a post for another day).

Or how I nearly face-planted into the sharp edge of a steel bench while trying to quietly slip out of a huge session to take a phone call. How all 1200 delegates were gathered, seated in chairs on the main floor and in chairs set on metal bleachers, and how I stood up and gathered my things, and then my foot caught on the edge of a step, and then I catapulted into the aisle, arms thrown out, taking huge steps forward to regain my balance. Huge steps that echoed like stampeding elephants in the quiet auditorium. Yes, even though I tried to keep my mouth shut, something more embarrassing than the last awkward moment did indeed happen.

It's a special gift I have, this ability to land in uncomfortable situations.

But I'm also going to tell you that I had a small revelation this morning.

I don't mean to paint an unnecessarily sunny version of marriage, but it's still very rare for Kyle and I to have real, heated arguments. We've had them, of course, but luckily they are few and far between, and they only come up over a couple topics that we both feel very strongly about (I think I've admitted before, with shame, that football is actually one of them).

Anyway, when we were talking about one of these potentially sticky topics this morning, Kyle said something very simple that made me look at the whole situation in a new way.

He said: "Whatever you decide is fine with me. I know you'll do it fairly."

Just like that, one of those issues that felt big and maybe contentious before suddenly didn't. And it's not because he "let me get my way," but because he knows that what we do won't be my way or his way, but our way. That's what we always hash out at the end of these arguments anyway -- a compromise. Except this time he skipped the "hashing out" part and trusted the compromising to me.

And that's what I need to do sometimes too.

He's an only child and I'm the oldest, and we're both opinionated. Luckily "our way" is often what we each want to do individually -- get a dog, get married, get another dog, ignore the dishes in the sink, make a financial plan that leaves a lot of wiggle room, get pregnant.

But when things we don't agree on crop up, as they are bound to do throughout our married life, we can either debate and argue -- and that's perfectly healthy and sometimes necessary-- or we can tell the other person "this one is your call" and trust that they will decide on something fair with you in mind.

Whether it's a third dog or a second child or a first whatever, I'm going to remember what he did this morning the next time a maybe-tricky issue comes up. I know he wants me to be happy, maybe more than anything else... and he knows that's what I want for him too, always. And so I'm going to make an effort to let go and say "This one is your call" more often.

Because with all the other big issues facing our world, the little ones that happen at home are both the easiest and the most important to solve.

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