responding to rivalry

Sibling rivalry – it begins at a pretty early age, doesn’t it.

A couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary on CBC television’s entitled Sibling Rivalry: Near, dear, and dangerous. I watched it again this week on the CBC doc zone website. In every relationship between siblings there is a natural rivalry that comes to expression. In some cases that rivalry might only ever be a very friendly and constructive rivalry. In other cases, the rivalry might be more intense and difficult, but the siblings are able to get beyond the rivalry as they move through adolescence into adulthood. But in some cases the rivalries are or become downright destructive – taking a toll on lives and on families.

In that documentary, Peter Hitchens talks about his relationship with his older brother Christopher Hitchens. And he recounts the story Christopher used to tell of once releasing the brake on his little brother’s stroller at the top of the hill – hoping it might just take his brother away down the hill. Sibling rivalry – it can begin at a pretty early age.  Christopher and Peter had, in fact, a lifelong rivalry – one a celebrated author and atheist, the other a celebrated author and person deep faith in God. Continue reading

getting personal – in a letter

In a file at home, I have a stack of hand-written letters I received back in 1997 and 1998. From way that I’ve filed them, you can tell I was kind of neurotic about those letters – they’ve always been in a neat pile, and each letter has its original airmail envelope stapled neatly to its back left corner. Back in 1997 and 1998, email was taking off as a communication tool. At that time, particularly given where they were coming from, letters made the most sense. I can remember the feeling of anticipation as I check the mail each day during that time period. I can remember the happiness in receiving a letter in my hands. I can remember sitting down to read those letters with care.

As you might suspect, those letters were sent by Becky – this was before we were married and when she was living in West Africa. Those letters were an expression of our deepening relationship – an expression of our interest in each other’s lives – of our desire to know more of each other. I should say that there was an equal number of letters traveling in the other direction, from my pen to her hand. To look back at those letters now is to look back onto an earlier stage of life. Memories and experiences have been preserved through ink and paper.

Thinking about those letters makes you wonder what’s going to happen to all of the communications of this new era. Already historians are worried about it. What happens when Facebook goes bankrupt in 15 years – and people lose all their status updates and their timeline is wiped clean? Or what happens when the old emails clogging up your system are thoughtlessly wiped away with one stroke of the key. Or what happens when we pack away that old computer in the basement, all those old messages locked in an inaccessible technology tomb? Continue reading