Art & Beauty

An unusually beautiful story of boyhood friendship, Little Men is a nostalgic ride which slowly builds towards the unavoidable crash we call the coming of age. This bittersweet tale of manhood effortlessly weaves together the struggles of being a father, a son, a good friend and decent human being. The magic is in the subtleties of its storytelling.

Small Everyday Heartbreaks

I could easily relate to the pressure the father felt from life’s demands. I could equally understand how the son emotionally experienced those realities. What a quagmire! This tension was illustrated by a number of scenes. One small example came when the son entered the kitchen looking for a childhood drawing. It occurs to the father, this picture might have been thrown away in their recent move. The child is upset and tries to explain how important it was to him. The father appears slightly defensive and tries to recover by imparting a life lesson about the goodness of letting go of stuff. But the son felt ignored and rejected. No connection was made, even though both of them wanted and tried to connect honestly.

For many of us, this is a typical parent/child interaction.

What We Really Need

The child is distraught and the adult attempts to comfort him with the truth of a broader perspective. But in practice, the reason it falls so short is because it’s a very self-centered exchanged. I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out. These lessons for “way down the road” aren’t about the child at all. They more accurately express what the adult has recently been or is currently struggling with — it’s the father who needs to let go. In that moment, the son needed to learn how to hold on, not let go. He needed to build a connection with his father. He needed assurance what’s important to him is taken seriously by those who profess to look out for his best interest. Somewhere down the road, he may need to let go of something. But not now. Now he needs the wisdom of a father’s acknowledgment and vulnerability.

Letting You Be You and Me be Me

How often does this happen between children and parents? How many times do opportunities arise to connect, only to be missed entirely? The relationship we want too often isn’t the one we get. How do we change this trajectory?

We can.

What if we stopped projecting onto others what we need to learn ourselves? What if we stopped trying to determine what the other needs to learn and just focused on listening deeply?

Mountains move.

When we share ourselves honestly, from a personal perspective, and listen with openness, which allows the other to be him or herself, connection is possible. Our most important relationships will look more like the intimacy of the boy and his friend rather than the disconnect of the son and his father.

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Trading punches with the heart of darkness
Going to blows with your fear incarnate
Never gone until it’s stripped away
A part of you has gotta die to change

In the morning you gon’ need an answer
Ain’t nobody gonna change the standard
It’s not enough to just feel the flame
You’ve gotta burn your old self away

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

You know the situation can’t be right
And all you ever do is fight
But there’s a reason that the road is long
It take some time to make your courage strong

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

When the wolves come and hunt me down
I will face them all and stand my ground
‘Cause there’s a fire burnin’ in me
They will see my strength in this love I found

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“Patriotism can be a dangerous thing if it leads to amnesia about the dark patches of our nation’s history,” writes Shane Claiborne. When we go digging into the lesser known aspects of our past, it’s clear America has never lived up to its own ideals. But this very fact is one of the catalysts pushing us forward, even if it is only inch by inch. This is the unfinished American dream totally worth celebrating — the dangerously subversive idea all people are created equal and have an important voice regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, class, race, or religion. May it someday be fully practiced and realized.

If patriotism is a love for one’s own country, then it matures and grows up when we recognize patriotism is a love for the people of our own country. To love another is to ascribe infinite worth, without stipulation, condition or reciprocation. To love someone is to stop trying to recreate them in our own image of who we think they should be. To love simply means we allow others, especially those “different” from us, to be themselves and to accept the depths of our truest self without shame. Anything with conditions — hidden or otherwise — isn’t love at all. Thus it ceases to be patriotic.

Who are we to love? The folks at Love Has No Labels shed some light on the average American of today and, in the process, remind us what it means to be a genuinely patriotic American (with a love that goes far beyond the walls of our borders). We truly are an interdependent and diverse community.

Happy “Interdependence” Day! #weareamerica

To celebrate our national interdependence more deeply, Claiborne offers a couple inspiring suggestions:

1). Track down old teachers and mentors. Let them know the influence they have had in your life.
3). Try to go a whole week without spending any money. If you have to, barter or beg a little to make it through.
14). Track to its source one item of food you eat regularly. Then, each time you eat that food, remember the folks who made it possible for you to it it.

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“They say the heart is where your treasure is, but maybe there’s another way to measure it ’cause it feels like what you find your pleasure in are things that are bringing you down.”

Jon Foreman


How do you put color into words for someone who has never seen it for themselves? How would you describe red? Or blue? Or burnt amber? How would you experience a sunset without color? Watch as these colorblind folks see all of that for the very first time. It’s an incredible personal and intimate experience most of us take for granted. What a breath-taking gift!

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