I love folks who question. To interrogate our beliefs is so very difficult. Believe me, I do it daily.
Where’s the line on this? Do this and this cancel each other out? If I think this, how can I feel this? If this is ‘right,’ is this other thing/ belief/ action ‘wrong’? If I buy this, can I square it w/ this belief?
So when a friend on my FB recently asked me how I reconcile my position on hospitals refusing to provide fatal drugs for state executions, vs. my position on hospitals refusing to prescribe birth control, I was fascinated.
Not because she asked, but because of how rare it is that we as a culture engage in dialogue — honest dialogue — on issues of belief.
What is it about our differences that so often precludes us talking about them? I still remember how hurt — and terminally angry — I was when I tried to talk w/ a friend’s friend about gay rights. Framing my own conversation with the statement that my niece and MANY dear friends are gay, I asked that we talk w/ respect about whatever topic had come up. Including an understood respect and acceptance of my OWN respect and love for my niece and her wonderful partner. Again, on FB.
A (hopefully relevant) digression: I adore FB. It allows me to reconnect w/ old friends (two in two weeks!). It keeps me up-to-date on my beloved grandson’s life, in pictures! It sends me silly cat pictures and videos to break up my work, and it is a way to stay in touch w/ a far-flung group of dear friends and family.
That said, it sometimes feels like manners go out the window when we engage a keyboard.
This woman proceeded to say TERRIBLE, HURTFUL things about my niece (referrring to her, specifically, as my niece), and was flat HATEFUL. What’s up w/that?? She obviously didn’t want to talk: she wanted only to hurt, it was quickly apparent. NO conversation was going to happen unless I first agreed w/ her completely. N.B.: that is NOT conversation, folks. It’s capitulation. And all too often that’s what seems to be the unspoken objective of most ‘conversations.’
I understand that for many folks, religion is outside of logic. For me, however, it is not. In fact, the Buddha actually encouraged folks to question — it’s part of our dharma, or the Buddha’s own teachings. One of many reasons that Buddhism is a good wisdom tradition fit for me.
But no religion says ‘be as angry as possible when you discuss your beliefs with others.” Unless there’s a new one out there, thought up by folks who don’t believe we can EVER work together.
I do. Believe we can work together. However, it requires a hard 1st step: questioning the coherence of our own hearts. Am I against the death penalty? How then, do I square that w/ my pro-choice stance? And if
I’m against a woman’s right to govern her own body, how do I square that w/ an anti-birth control position? And if I won’t allow a woman birth control OR the right to choose to terminate a terrible mistake of a pregnancy, how do I square THAT w/ a refusal to fund programs for single mothers and children?
These are questions that drive contemporary politics, and have (literally) life-changing consequences for me, for my family and dear friends. For ALL of us.
In other words, it’s not as easy as being for or against this or that. At least not for me. And — thankfully! — not for most of my friends. Which is why I was so happy to have my friend question me on the consistency of my own beliefs. Talk about what’s most important to my spiritual growth? Sure! (And yes — I know that sounds verrry hokey.) As long as you really want conversation — dialogue, not anger. I learn so much more that way. Whereas, I learn zip/ nada/ rien when you yell at me in all caps on FB, or (this really happened) spit while you’re talking to me because I won’t confirm your own opinions.
After all — aren’t we all searching? Each one of us trying — w/ our fragile beginner’s hearts — to figure out what’s up with this weird journey we share? And wouldn’t it be nice to share our individual maps…