Family Portraits

A schoolteacher friend of mine tipped me off to a movie trailer for a film called That’s a Family! This award-winning documentary comes to us from GroundSpark, a U.S. organization dedicated to social change. That’s a Family! gently reminds the viewer that families are cast in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

My friend has been discussing the film’s theme with her students, as part of the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day curriculum. “The students have loved it, and I love their reactions,” she wrote to me, adding: “I wish adults could be so accepting.”

She thought the film might be suited to 50 Good Deeds. Why, on a blog about acts of kindness? Maybe because striving to accept members of a family unit for who they are, even when their skin colour, disability, sexual orientation or gender happens to be different from ours, is big-hearted behaviour. Especially if that broad acceptance (oops, I could almost make a pun here) doesn’t come easily and naturally.

And it doesn’t, for everyone. Our species evolved to be somewhat xenophobic. In a caveman community where everyone knows everyone else, strangers could mean a threat. And that distrust of diversity can be hard to shake if it’s hard-wired.

So I say, if you’ve made a point of overcoming that fear, if you embrace differences – heck, if you embrace people with differences – then you are committing a supreme act of kindness.

Acceptance is the new black. Tell all your friends.

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