I hope all is well in your world. Did you think I wasn’t coming back? To be honest I wasn’t sure either. I’m going to go ahead with the warning that this post is going to be long.
I have been busy with the garden and getting DN to camps and such, but I really haven’t been so busy that I couldn’t write a post. I’ve been procrastinating. Things have been weighing heavy on my heart for a long time now and I have been avoiding writing anything about it. My posts here have been lots of fluff for many months to circumvent what I really want to say. I have enough years in the rear view mirror to know by now that when something keeps nagging at me and just won’t go away it is the Holy Spirit (you can call it what works for you) telling me to do something. If I keep ignoring the message I will get a smack on the head instead of a gentle nudge (ask me how I know).
Several years ago, when I was still a single mom, I formed a friendship with another single mom about my age. We had lots of interests in common and started getting together about once a month for dinner or go to an event. I enjoyed her company and was looking forward to a long friendship. Then suddenly she started finding reasons not to get together. No real explaination as to why. I’m not stupid, so I quit calling her because obviously she no longer wanted my company. It hurt. I racked my brain trying to figure out what happened. Since we were still “friends” on social media I started to see political leanings on her posts and in one of those EUREKA moments I remembered a comment I made over dinner that she didn’t agree with. This one comment is the only thing to this day that I can figure out ended our friendship. To this day it still hurts that she chose politics over a friendship.
This is what is making me heartsick. People have become so polarized over politics, vaccines, the news, the frickin weather that relationships don’t matter anymore. Yesterday I saw an aquaintance’s post where she got the vaccine. What followed in the comments literally made me sick to my stomach. The ugliness that people were spewing out floored me. What has happened to common courtesy and respect?
Using the vaccine as an example since it seems to be the super divider at the moment, can we not try to understand the other person’s point of view even in the tiniest? Everything has gray areas. Virtually nothing is black & white. Yes, we can understand why someone wants to get the vaccine. Could we also understand that someone may be unable to take the vaccine? Could we understand that maybe someone had a bad reaction to a vaccine in the past and is slightly terrified to take another one? A personal example would be my experience when the MMR vaccine came out. I was in elementary school and they were giving the shot to every student and lined us up in the gym to get it. Thankfully my doctor was there supervising the vaccines, saw me in the line and pulled me out. Come to find out I was very allergic to one or more ingredients in the vaccine. What would have happened if he hadn’t been there? To this day I have not had the MMR vaccine.
This horrible, vile, rudeness is destroying our culture and social fabric, not to mention our close relationships. People, and I am definitely including myself here, can no longer carry on deep, meaningful conversations. If you only associate with people who believe exactly the way you do there is no growth or creativity. What if the square wheel people never entertained the suggestion to round off the corners of those square wheels? So, does it get to the point where we will only associate with people that eat the exact same food we do? What if they wear a red shirt, but we only like blue shirts? Eventually we find ourselves in a tiny box ALONE. Think nothing that crazy will happen? I don’t know. Keep watching and see. We are hurling down a very dangerous road.
Earlier this week I was with a group of people at an event. I know these people, but not well. So far I have enjoyed their company and have had fun with them during the event. We were just sitting and having some small talk (about all we are down to these days) and laughing when someone mentioned the vaccine. Dead silence. Everyone was afraid to make any statement. No one wants to suddenly find themselves being verbally stoned to death and in all likelihood ostracised forever from a group of people they like. Even if you THINK you know their leanings you can’t be SURE. We all just sat there in silence until someone steered us to a SAFE conversation. This is no way to live!
I have realized that I am now down to only my husband to openly discuss anything with. We don’t agree on everything, but we have the trust and respect for each other to be able to handle a disagreement. My fear of losing long time friendships and even some family relationships has now reached the point that I walk on eggshells all the time. More than once I have gotten off the phone and felt tears well up because I felt like I said something wrong. There is a barrier that used to not be there in several of my relationships. There are people I want to reach out to to check on, but I don’t because I know how easy it is to step on a land mine these days. This is not how I want to live my life.
We should all feel free to be who we are and in that freedom allow others the same. We don’t have to agree, but we should give respect, courtesy and grace to each other. This used to be normal. Now it’s the exception. How will we solve the big problems and make a better world if we are constantly at each others throat? Am I the only one who feels this way?
I can’t do anything about how other people act, but I can decide how I will act. I pledge to listen completely to a differing opinion, treat the person with respect, courtesy and compassion. I don’t even have to like them, but maybe if they don’t have someone immediately jump down their throat and tell them what an idiot they are, then maybe they will in turn treat someone else better. I can tell you this without a shadow of a doubt…if you are my friend, I WILL NOT dissolve our friendship over politics, vaccines, what you eat or what color shirt you wear! You get my drift.
I welcome thoughtful, courteous comments. You are free to express your opinions here as long as you do so with grace. Any vile, ugly, divisive comments will not be approved. I don’t have a huge readership here, but I value all of you and if we each go out in our worlds and stay calm and respectful we might start to turn the tide. You know…drop a tiny pebble in body of water and watch the ripples expand.
For Heaven’s sake, stay safe out there!
Photo by Timothe Blandin on Unsplash