My neighbor and closest friend Né came over last night for a “No kid’s visit”, our first in 10 days or so. We are very close friends even with a 24 year age difference, I am the elder :-).
It was great to be able to catch up, BS and bitch about all the things the two of us always keep just between us, you know this person, your sounding board.
During our conversation Né started complaining about how everyone in the county is only talking about LGBT Rights. I calmly listened to her go on for a while thinking she just needed to get something off her chest and she would get to it eventually. As her words kept flowing I started wondering where all of this was leading, it wasn’t feeling like a cathartic purge anymore. It wasn’t just an expression of opinions or feelings it was starting to feel more like a statement of right and wrong.
We don’t do this! I was thinking to myself, we have discussions, lively debates! Sure our opinions differ, so what? We made a pact, a long while ago, when we first started to become friends, it was our core values that brought us together we don’t have to agree on every little thing, agree to disagree. No preaching, remember! If you have an opinion you get to have it. That’s why we have each other, we were both oppressed in our pasts and it is wonderful to have a friend who we could be so open and honest, with no judgment. Plus I was confused, we have had this discussion before she supports LGBT Rights, she was for marriage equality or so I thought. Could I have gotten that so wrong? No, we have had this discussion more than once, I know her, and it’s something else.
I am a very gentle person by nature, I strive to be non-judgmental (not an easy task and I fail miserably often but I learn from my mistakes hopefully). I try to live by the motto that I can’t see past my own sin and faults to see yours, so I’ll just worry about mine :-). (Talking about personal issues here, not crime or injustice, etc.) Lastly, I try to always practice mercy and understanding again I am human, I fail at times.
I still hadn’t said a word to Né at this point; she had been going on about things she had read, seen on TV. Then she started talking about the businesses that don’t want to serve the LGBT community based on religious views. That’s when it started, the RED haze that starts to cover my brain. The two things that really get me going are injustice and ignorance, in one shot, in my mind, she hit me with both! I asked her to give me an example. She went on to vaguely imply that people were being forced to marry couples against their religious beliefs.
I stopped her there and asker her, “When you and B get married are you going to get married in a church?”
No, we don’t belong to a church.
Well most churches won’t marry us unless we are members.
So, force them too.
You can’t do that!
I know, what makes you think a Gay or Lesbian couple could if you can’t?
“OH!” Light bulb moment here
Then she started in on bakers who don’t want to make cakes for same sex weddings, and florists who don’t want to do the flowers and how this whole thing is just taking over our country. I just lost it, I don’t really know what hit but the red haze covered my eyes I jumped out of my seat yelled at the top of my lungs, ”Then find a new F’ing job! If their religion doesn’t allow them to serve everyone, then they need to get into a new business!” I was mad.
Né was shocked, she had never seen me lose it. I don’t tolerate people who hide behind religion to get their way. Stop! I believe in God and I believe in Jesus. I follow gods will for me daily and I follow the teachings of Jesus. I also pray every day that I never use my love for God or His love for me to oppress another human being.
I respect people’s religions but I think we can all work together in respect and with communication and understanding and no one has to compromise their beliefs or feel that their rights have been denied. The biggest obstacle is getting past the feelings of I am right and you are wrong that all of us have.
This went on for a while, her and I back and forth, nothing was accomplished. Feeling horrid, I stopped, shut my mouth gave her a hug and told her I was sorry. I stepped back and calmly asked, “What’s this really about?”
Once again “This is taking over our country!” In a supper whinny voice and it hit me! Why I had blown up so forcefully or at least partially why, she had been whining this whole time that coupled with my perceived injustice of it all, OK, mind readjust.
What do you mean by taking over our whole county, you keep saying that?
That’s all you hear about, on the news, in the paper, on social media it’s all anyone talks about. Enough already, we get it! Marriage equality, equal rights hooray, move on! More whining, I wanted to laugh, I didn’t, I’m a little kinder than that despite my earlier actions. Gently I explained that I understood that to her I am sure it felt like that was all that was being talked about and that no other voice in the nation was being heard. Her eyes lit up and she sat a little straighter, I understood her. I reminded her that it had only been a little over 2 weeks since the Supreme Court Ruling on Same Sex Marriage. This is a huge step forward for equality in this nation, it’s not going to die down. In fact the voices aren’t going to go away they are going to keep speaking, they have just been given the ultimate right to speak! All these citizens who felt they couldn’t speak up before have now been given a voice in our nation, they are talking and they want to be heard. She looked at me funny and said, they didn’t have to be silent; generation gap, sigh. I replied, lot’s felt that they did, now they don’t.
“But no one else can talk!”, there it was, the real reason, no one can hear me or my kind anymore.
Yes, yes, yes they can! Everyone who was talking is still talking there are just more voices added now and you are not use to it yet, it will come, you’ll see, it’s good. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, I promise!
Really, are you sure? We talked a little more and I made some references to the old days as she calls them (the 60’s and 70’s) she started getting her smile back. 🙂
So I gave her an analogy, realizing this is her generation’s first really meaningful social change, have I been through so many I have become blasé?
We are in a small 15 member choir, our group is good but not great and we have a small but loyal audience attendance for our performances’. One day our choir director hears singing coming from the parking lot. Upon investigation finds the construction crew working eating lunch and singing acapella and they are fantastic. When he approaches them about joining the choir they are hesitant, they have never sung in public only in private. Eventually he convinces them to come to a practice on Saturday just to check it out. When they come in they bring the rest of the group and their wives who sing as well 18 in all. Time passes and they are accepted into the choir more than doubling the size.
Has adding 18 more voices to the choir stopped you from singing?
Are you still able to sing a solo part when needed?
With the addition of the 18 voices the songs became richer, have more depth and diversity. Ultimately the music and experience have more meaning.
Voices aren’t being silenced; we’re just allowing more people into the choir.
She left the house feeling way better then when she came in, always the goal when we visit each other.
This was meant as an apology to Né for losing my temper, so sorry sweetie, I love you.
As I was writing this it occurred to me what else I had done, I also apologize for trying to impose my opinion and will upon you, we said we wouldn’t do that…..told you I fail, but I learn! 🙂