July 9, 2014

love, people.

**climbs up soapbox**

I see so many young, educated, kind people in my Facebook newsfeed with such astounding beliefs that they support with their religious affiliations; e.g. "Abortion should be illegal because I'm a Christian and Christians believe that abortion is a sin," or "I can't believe a Muslim man has a position of power in our government because we were founded by Christians and our country should be based on Christian beliefs."

Let me say here: I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS. We are not a Christian nation (governmentally) any more than we are a Jewish, Hindu, or Islamic nation. (aside: this is true regardless of my religious affiliations or beliefs)

This is not complicated.

If you believe that abortion is a sin, don't get one. Taking it further: Don't patronize a physician who offers abortions to their patients. But for crying out loud, don't publicly shame a woman with different beliefs than you or commit an act of violence against that physician.

If you believe that the Islamic religion is heresy, don't practice Islam. Don't assume that every Muslim is "out to get you" or vandalize their sacred house of worship because you disagree.

If you disagree with gay marriage because it contradicts what you believe to be true, then don't support gay marriage. This does not automatically mean that you have the right to live in a country that outlaws gay marriage. Not everyone here believes what you believe. WE DON'T MAKE LAWS TO KEEP INDIVIDUALS HAPPY. We don't do this because it's impossible. Because everyone's happy is different.

If you want to be able to go to your church and worship without someone arresting you, shaming you, or physically attacking you, then accept the fact that you must, in a free society, be willing to allow others those same freedoms. Just get over it. Not everyone practices the same religion. Not everyone believes the same things. IT'S OKAY. The world is not going to end just because there's someone living in your neighborhood that believes different things. We probably all love our children the same, love our partners the same, and want to be happy the same.

I am tired of seeing my beautiful, intelligent, and full-of-brilliant-ideas friends acting like ignorant bigots. I am tired of wondering what kinds of conversations I am going to have to have with my son on the way home from a barbecue at your house after he has heard hateful, intolerant things come out of your mouths. I am tired of being sad at how my peer group views our country and the world.

I don't have to agree with you to love you, have a beer with you on the porch in the summer, or enjoy some time in the pool with you and our kids. If we agree, awesome. We can toast to being on the same page. If we don't agree, even better. Talk to me about it. Tell me what you believe and why and I'll tell you the same. Maybe we raise our voices or get frustrated because we're passionate. Maybe one of us changes our minds, maybe not. Maybe, if nothing else, we know each other a little better and are a little less likely to judge someone of the same ilk the next time we cross their path. Or we go home and we Google what we were talking about and we read and learn and we become better, more educated, more tolerant and more understanding people. And then we can start that cycle all over again the next time we find something that we disagree on. We show our children that we can be different and still be friends. We show them that we can raise our voices and be passionate without it being the end of a relationship. That we can love people who think differently or worship differently. And that we can do all of this without the world coming crashing down at our feet. That different is NOT SCARY.

Or, alternatively, we decide to stop hanging out. Even this isn't the end of the world. Here we teach our children that it's okay to walk away from influences that they don't feel are healthy, inspiring, or enjoyable. I can think of a lot of worse things that we could be teaching them.

I respect your right to whatever opinions you have. But I do not respect those opinions existing in a void. I don't respect someone who hates others simply because it's easy to hate. If you disagree, then spend all the time in the world disagreeing. But don't hate. Don't spread your negativity into my world. And learn! Learn about why you disagree. Learn enough so that you can explain to me, in human and kind words, why you believe what you believe. I will respect you even more for giving me the opportunity to understand someone else a little better, even if I walk away firm in my opposing beliefs.

As long as your beliefs aren't endangering the health, well-being, or safety of those around you, we're cool.

Because, here's the thing...

Everybody thinks that their belief is the right belief. Christians wouldn't be Christians if they didn't believe in God as their supreme being. But, Muslims wouldn't be Muslims if they didn't believe in their prophet Muhammad. Your beliefs are heresy to everyone else but you and those like you. THAT'S OKAY. It's okay for you to find your path in one place and another to find theirs elsewhere. You wouldn't stop hanging out with someone just because they hate the color green and it happens to be your favorite, would you?

My son is a wonderful, bright, kind person full of promise, curiosity, and love. I am doing everything in my power to make sure that his love and promise and curiosity isn't overshadowed by the negativity, hate, and intolerance in our world. It would be wonderful if you would help.

**climb down soapbox. hugs anyone who stayed to listen.**



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