I am I and you are you and we both are one another

“ I am I, and you are you
and we’re each other, too.”

From the Cowboy and the Cossack

The words in the title are taken from an excellent book by Clair Huffaker,called the Cowboy and the Cossack. Set in the period of history when the Tsar ruled Russia with an iron fist, the story is about a cattle-trading outfit from Montana who sold a herd of 500 long horn cattle to a group of anti-Tsarist rebels in Russia.

The deal called for a small group of Montana cowboys, boarding a ship with the long horns in the hold and, upon disembarking at Vladivostok, driving them across 1,000 miles of Siberia tundra to where the rebels would receive them.

Accompanying them on their journey was a small band of Cossacks whose job was to keep the cowboys and the cattle safe in their long trek. Both the Cossacks and the cowboys were independent-minded, ornery kind of hombres and well, they didn’t hit it off very well. In fact, they irritated the hell out of one another.

A cowboy by the name of Keith and a Cossack named Krug were among those down right hostile to each other during the first part of the long journey. But as the weeks wore on, despite the fact that neither man spoke a word of the other’s language, a friendship grew between them.

When an accident took Kruk’s life, Keith was devastated. He insisted on digging the grave for his friend and appending to the grave marker the short poem he himself wrote; the poem reads, “I am I and you are you and we’re each other, too.”

To me, the poem cuts deep. It reminds me that with all our cultural and ethnic and religious differences, we are very much the same. “We’re each other.”

Racially we are a rainbow of colors but we all bleed red. Religiously, we worship in different temples and churches but reverence the same higher power. When a baby cries, we pay attention, whether the infant is born in Brooklyn or Guatemala. We know what it is to lose a loved one. Our hearts are touched at weddings or graduations.

The most important thing in the world for us is to see our children succeed in life. We yearn to live in peace with our brothers and sisters. In the deepest recesses of our hearts we long to love and be loved.

“ I am I, and you are you and we are both each other.”