Wednesday, April 27, 2016

42487 :: Truth. A matter of opinion?

I am not a morning person. I don't wake up well. So I have developed a coping behavior that helps me ease into consciousness that works very well for me. Some people might not be able to leave their dinner dishes overnight, but washing dishes is something I can do even half-awake. Standing in my robe and sandals at the kitchen sink with a soapy sponge in my hand, making short work of a few spatulas and pots and pans (last night, I made a batch of strawberry jam after dinner... so more than a few pots and pans!), and the warm water. In just a few minutes I can go from grumpy and disoriented to being able to face the world and tackle the problems the day brings.

It works for me.

The other thing that washing dishes in my sleep allows me to do is to think. I can literally work my way through wooden spoons, funnels and all the things that don't go well in the dishwasher at the same time as thinking my way through the conundrums that have pickled everyone's brains for the past few days on social media. Things like what is "normal" when we are talking about Religious vs. LGBT rights, what is the answer to bathrooms for transgenders, who is right? who is wrong? how do we live together in this society?

OK, I admit I didn't quite figure out the last part about how we live together, because I can't control the behavior of other people, only myself. But I do think I have figured out the rest of it:

We are all wrong.

We think we know the answers when in reality we have limited understanding and vision. And we also have freewill to believe or not believe in a Higher Power who created or designed it all. Even those of us who do believe, we are still limited to our concept of what or who that "higher power" really is. So, what it boils down to is that, in and of ourselves we cannot know who or what is really right or wrong. We do not have that power, because what lifestyle or belief system or behavior we consider "right" for ourselves is ultimately governed by our understanding and/or belief in our chosen god or God or nongod. We cannot "know" for a certainty if our belief system is The correct belief system like we can know from experience that by drinking a glass of water we will no longer be thirsty, or by taking a nap we will no longer be tired. We take our belief system on faith... hence the term faith-based belief.

So, based on that (slightly convoluted) point of view, I think we have to agree that we do not agree, and probably will never agree with everyone else on what is right, or normal, or acceptable behavior. Then what?

My mother used to say, "Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins." At the age of 12, that philosophy didn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me. Then I grew up and I realized that the rest of the world did not walk in my shoes. They did not wear my glasses. And I had to adjust my thinking and decide if I was going to remain a child and insist on having my own way, or was I going to learn to respect others and allow them to think the way they do and let them go on their own way, even though I sincerely thought they were making the wrong choice. I know some evangelicals have a problem with that mindset, and I do understand where they are coming from, but my faith-based belief system is such that it is not up to me to argue someone out of their point of view, but to so live my life according to my own belief system and do it in such a way that shows respect and tolerance for where another person camps out, that my belief system will eventually trump another intolerant, hate-based belief system and actions will speak louder than words.

In the end, even though I believe my truth to be the most logical, "correct truth", as long as your "truth" does not impinge on my "truth", you are on your own and you are responsible for the consequences of your choices.

Having said all that, it still remains that forcing me to call "normal" what my belief system defines as "not normal" is, in effect, crossing that metaphorical line of swinging your arm into my nose. That is where we have to agree that we are not in agreement. It does not call for name calling, I am not an "idiot", I am not a bigot or an "anything"-phobe just because I do not agree with you.

The reality is, we live in a post-Christian nation. Yes, there are still plenty of people who wear that badge, some wear it well, some are an embarrassment to the name. I cannot help that, because I am not in charge of them. It does not mean that all people of faith are bigoted or narrowminded, or even right-wing conservatives. So we - who try to live out what we believe to be true in a way that is mindful that others do not believe as we do - are trying like everything to figure out how to love without compromise, and it is not an easy bike to pedal, believe me.

Treat other people as you would like them to treat you

It's not just a cliché phrase by some dusty rabbi 2,000 years ago, It puts into terms anyone can understand how we are to treat someone else, even when we don't agree with them. It is not by mistake that he also taught that the world is going to hate us, and we should do good to them anyway.

But I tell you,love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Seems like that bike should be pretty easy to ride, if we can keep that in mind.

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