My wife, Barbara and I have talked about how we think it is a good sign when the teacher or other observer of the scene says your kid “plays well with others.”
It’s comforting to think that child will grow surrounded by friends, over the years, to laugh with and share with and cry with.
In my book, “To Find The Way Of Love” I say that relationships define us more then our achievements. I was struck by Steve Jobs’ response to his biographer Walter Isaacson as reported in Time, October 17. When asked why he, such a private man, was willing to open up about himself through numerous hours of interviews he is reported to have said to Isaacson; “I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
Steve Jobs was an acknowledged visionary and genius who had a profound relationship with his work and through that all of us. The vast outpouring of grief that followed his death speaks to that. Barbara and I were at an Apple store the next day and felt deeply moved by the growing tributes, flowers, apples, pictures, messages left outside the door in tribute. But as the end of his life approached it was his family that mattered. That was his priority. It’s a valuable exercise to imagine how we would spend the last week of our life, if we had advance knowledge.
I like to think that the test of a man or woman is how they play with others. Not the number of relationships, but the quality of one’s ability to relate and care and feel. It’s interesting that what has been said about psychopaths is that they lack empathy, the capacity to put themselves in another’s shoes. Given the environment today, some might say that because our elected officials are largely out of touch with the people who elected them, their fellow citizens, the disconnect gets larger daily as does the anger. Now we have groups protesting in Wall Street and many other locations across the nation, and growing.
Our relationships express our humanity. Our relationships can express our equality, person to person. Despite differences in ability, power, money, luck, and we are all born live and die. That is our common human experience. The rest is what happens in between. I would wish for a world in which “plays well with others” remains important and can make a person proud.
Oliver & Barbara