You know what they are: religion, politics, money, death, disease...here's my essential problem: these are the things I most like to think about and discuss. Yes, it has made for uncomfortable moments, (even tears when I was younger with thinner skin), disagreements that were/are deep and impassible. I've found though that there are certain people in my life that I just cannot or will not discuss these topics with any longer...it produces nothing but hurt feelings. Most of these folks are in my family and I decided I wanted peace more than I wanted to prove I was "right."
After a recent FB kerfuffle...where a FB friend (as opposed to a real-life friend who is also on FB) kinda went off on my Wall in a way that I felt was over the top. I tried reason and calm...but, that didn't quell the verbal unrest...it was a dispute about who is a Christian and who is not. Let me just state for the record...I am adverse to "preaching" from any religious group. I support your right to your freedom of religion and have fought for years for religious liberty and religious freedom (all religions). I have a Master's Degree in Theology. I have a Grandfather still preaching well into his eighties. My father was also a Minister. I have several real-life friends in Christian ministry...some traditional (like in a church) and some non-traditional...like providing services for the homeless. To me there is no difference in what these folks do...and if they were Muslim--I'd feel the same way. I respect their dedication to their faith and I have friends and family of many different religious and political persuasions and those with neither.
I don't like it when anyone of any faith comes to my door to proselytize. I've been known to be engaging to the point of absurdity, being rude and/or overly dismissive. I don't go to other people's doors and try and convince them they are wrong about what they believe and I find it very intrusive. The same is true for my FB wall and my blog. If you want to preach about what you believe in a positive way..i.e.: share something that is uplifting--fantastic...go for it...you are welcome to share it...no matter the faith or lack of it. But, don't come to me using your religion as a way to demean me or people I love. Don't question the faith of others. Don't call people names and claim to be acting in the name of your faith.
Personally, I choose not to be identified with any religion. This has been a life-long struggle for me. I stopped going to church when I got to college...funny--the more Christians I met, the less I wanted to be around them. I did continue to be very active with the Student Ministry Organization--which led to my job managing and living in the campus homeless shelter for my last two years. In my family, we have Evangelical Christians, Fundamentalist Christians, good old Methodists (very few), some Pagans, some Agnostics, some Atheists--and my oldest son's father is Jewish. He celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas. My husband is Catholic. So--it can get a little confusing--I imagine most American families deal with religious diversity to some degree or another. We teach our children tolerance, information about different religions and perspectives and about science and reason. They can decide for themselves as they age what they want to commit to...this is something my husband and I feel very strongly about.
Out of respect for my Grandparents, I do not talk religion or politics with them. Ever. It would only cause harm and no one is changing any one's mind. I do believe, because I have witnessed it over and over--that people with wildly different opinions can still love one another and treat one another with respect. If you aren't willing to obey some basic ground rules on my territory, then I have nothing for you. I don't want your negativity and I won't be silent when I feel like others are being treated unfairly or in a manner that is without basic manners or dignity.
I know I walk a thin line. I have opinions. I am human. I also teach Ethics, Critical Thinking and Political Science--and this means I have to walk my talk. I have to be respectful of differing viewpoints, encourage people to engage and use facts and not fallacies. It means I have to admit to my biases and encourage others to do the same. It means I have to keep talking and thinking about things that make lots of people squirm. It is who I am and always have been. I ain't changin'...so get with me and let's agree to disagree sometimes and still treat each other with care or get on down the road.
Thanks dear readers and Thanks to the Founders for caring so much about the freedom of religion & speech that it is in our 1st Amendment. Thanks to all organizations of people, both formal and informal who have continued the fight since our Founding. (USA!USA!USA!)
Whew...I feel so much better...