I seem to be doing that a lot lately. I can not say the World has changed because, it has not. I can not say that people have changed because, we have not. Those are the causes of the sighs…
“If you are not like me, then you are wrong”. “If you do not do what I want you to do, you need to be repressed”. “If you do not fit my norms, then you need to adapt or go away”. *sigh* When I was a kid we had movies about the hero in the Western that was misunderstood and we still loved them. We celebrated the people that marched to their own drummer and no one put them down, even if they thought they were a bit odd. Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way”. We embraced, at least in the house I was raised in, that people were allowed their own values and, if those did no harm, were treated as valid as our own. My father is a Christian Man and has an Israeli flag on his desk. *editorial, this is not to turn into a debate about Israel merely an example of the facts of the differences between the faith he has and that he can also embrace a culture that is far different than his own* Perhaps, or not “perhaps”, because of that, I am not likely to judge someone that is “differently normal”.
“If I don’t understand you, I MUST fear you”
I’ve said it before, Aj is Pagan. She and I do not share the same faith but, at the core of her, she is a wise Woman, a “Crone” in her words. I seek her input and knowledge when I do not know what to do. Even though I will never be Pagan, I understand the depth of her faith and love her for that as much as any other part of her… Z is Christian. Some would say she can not be because she is also a Lesbian. I disagree with that view. Of course, I’ve been called a “heretic” for that view point, and now call myself a Heretic Christian. Z is the first Christian I go to for prayer. She and I do not see eye to eye on several things but, again, like Aj, I trust her wisdom and core values. In fact, I trust Z with the monsters in my head when I question my own sanity…There is a man I have recently started following on Facebook. He’s a Rabbi. We don’t share the same faith but, I read his words talking about Hanukkah and see the wisdom and holiness in them. I find that we, too, share the same values, even if we go about them with differing paths.
None of these three are to be feared. Why would they be? Yet, the World has not changed. There are Christians, people of strong faith, that would disparage, denigrate, or fear those three because they do not fit “Christian values”. I would ask, what part of the values do they not fit? Do they not love enough? Do they not have faith? Do they not attempt to live out what they say they believe? When they speak of Gods, God, or G-d can wisdom not be found? When they pray or light candles, are they not making an attempt to talk to the Divine? So what that some would say that they are not listened to or are wrong? I DO NOT question their faith or holiness, even if they, with the exception of Z, do not go about it in the way I do.
We, allegedly, have changed as a society. We presume to be more open. We want to be not judged for being different. *sigh* Yet, as soon as we are faced with a perception of a threat, our fears and prejudices surface. We become insular and clannish. We jump at shadows and the remote possibility of harm. We look at what we see and judge based on the surface without an attempt to look at the individual. We “circle the wagons” and hide.
I am not saying that there are not great evils in the World. There are but, with 7.125 billion people on the planet, the vast majority of them want to worship as they may, love who they find to love, and live their lives in peace…just like you and me. Seeing every person that is different as evil puts us on an island. John Donne wrote,
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…”
We, all of us, are linked. Our choices are limited. We may exist connected to mankind and, as a result, risk or we may disconnect and insulate and live without risk…of harm or growth. I chose risk and the reward have been greater than I could have imagined. I have the love and wisdom of Aj, the trust of Z, and the holiness of Misha. Those are worth any potential harm.
This is my request, look past the surface. See beyond what you want to see. Do not assume that because you have a view of yourself that anyone that does not tightly conform to your view lacks those qualities you prize. You just might be surprised at what lies within. You could find that your effort is worth the gain in who you find. A Pagan, a Lesbian, a Rabbi, and I walked into a bar and I came out ahead.