Growing up in rural Georgia, I thought being a minority meant you were either African-American or Catholic. Our family was one of only two that were Catholic, but fortunately I never experienced any intense prejudice other than an occasional joke about the pastor, the priest and the rabbi. In fact, I had never known a Jewish person until I was 22 years old, living in Atlanta. That’s when I met this fun, interesting girl named Robin. Life changed for me then; Robin’s family introduced me to a new and intoxicating culture, and broadened my thinking to include consideration of religious, women, and minority rights.
Coming from a very modest financial background, and being wired like I am, I have tirelessly focused on exceling at my job. I typically work twelve hour workdays plus a bit of weekend work. But the time I spend at home with my family is high quality – I give them my full attention and love every second of that time. Combined, my work and home time fill nearly all my waking hours.
My father unknowingly taught me the most important lesson about self and community. My father was to some, a man’s man of toughness – he was a boxing champ as a teenager and a fist fighter in his twenties. To others, he was the bar fly and party man. And to many, he was a larger than life figure. He was also a surprisingly gifted philosopher. Before he passed, he shared with me the greatest wisdom I’ve ever received. “Son,” he said, “all anyone truly wants is to be loved.” He said these words in the context of a broader conversation regarding the wealthy, the poor, the middle class, whites, African-Americans, Hispanics – that is, everyone one of us. Mr. Tough Guy, who rarely shared his inner thoughts, shared his most sincere feelings, and only months before his death.
I try to take those words to heart. While I am perhaps too focused on work and my own family, when I do interact with others in the community, whether strangers or friends, I remember that to be in community means to treat each person with acceptance and love.
Bryan Buckler was raised in Georgia, USA, in a rural community, as a Catholic. Bryan and his wonderfully Jewish wife, Robin Brenner Buckler, have lived in Charlotte, NC for 12 years. Robin and Bryan have three children, Adam (15), Amanda (13), and Sophie (10).