We had pizza for dinner last night. So today — as most pizza eaters know — was ‘leftover pizza’ day. Here’s the deal: my beloved must heat his. I eat it hot the first night, cold after. I actually like cold pizza! The very idea seems, to him, almost revolting.

We have similar differences when we buy cookies w/ our coffee: he always gets oatmeal raisin, which I really don’t care for (at least not the cakey kind he likes, and NO RAISINS). He can’t stand any kind of nut, so ix-nay on the white chocolate macadamia nut. (N.B.: I adore macadamia nuts!)

These aren’t important differences, of course. More the loveable foibles of friends & family. And wouldn’t I love to be able to look at broader differences with the same tolerance? To be fair, I can overlook — or at least get beyond — major ideological differences when others don’t attempt to convince or convert me. If you’re anti-gay, I’ll ignore you. Until you want to pass laws that disenfranchise — even punish — my beloved niece, my dear friends, colleagues.

via pixabay
via pixabay

Same with religious differences. If you want to pretend this is a country founded on Biblical beliefs — despite historical evidence to the contrary (Thomas Jefferson, anyone?) — I’ll humour you. Until you try to outlaw the marriages of other religions (and there’s a bill to that effect in Oklahoma right now). What — I don’t get to marry because I’m Buddhist? Or my Wiccan/ Hindu/ Muslim/ atheist friends??

Now we’re not talking small differences. We’re talking major interference. That’s where we part ways. If you want to heat your pizza? Go for it! But if you think that the racist frat boys at University of Oklahoma singing racist songs last week is ‘just kids having fun,’ we’re going to argue. If you’re old enough to join the military, as my sister the vet says, you’re old enough not to be excused on the basis of your immaturity. That kind of immaturity should have been parented & churched & schooled out of you.

Metta via google

In other words, don’t expect my Buddhist commitment to tolerance to let your bigotry slide. I’m an ‘engaged’ Buddhist, meaning I follow this advice from the great Thích Nhất Hạnh:

Buddhism has to do with your daily life, with your suffering and with the suffering of the people around you. You have to learn how to help a wounded child while still practicing mindful breathing. You should not allow yourself to get lost in action. Action should be meditation at the same time.

Although I confess: it’s hard not to ‘get lost’ in my actions. I haven’t learned how to look at children, or the homeless, or the poor, or the lost elderly, and breathe mindfully. My breath still catches, and my heart still breaks. But if I can laugh at warmed-over pizza, and roll my eyes affectionately at raisins, perhaps I can learn to not jump down throats when people espouse racist, classist, anti-gay, et al perspectives.

Perhaps. It’s part of metta, that lovely Buddhist term encompassing benevolence & compassion meditation. I’m working on it, honest. I also still believe in miracles…

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