I have this awesome friend Sheryl whom I have known since I was 22. (That's Sheryl in the photo to the right with another one of our rugby buddies.) She's ten years older than me and doesn't mince words. Over the past 13 years, she has been known to tell me things like "You're being a b*tch and it's getting old," and "what are you thinking, Freak?" No, seriously, we're friends. Good friends. The kind of friends who tell each other things that only friends can tell you because you know they're telling you these things for your own good and because ultimately, you both know you need to hear it.
So when Sheryl takes a moment to be... sweet... I really listen. And bask in the love like a snake on a rock on the first sunny day of the year. Or like a teenager at the beach during summer vacation. Or like any other thing that basks a lot in warm weather. Whatever, the point is-- Sheryl gave me a compliment and it ROCKED!
Now that I've given it such a build-up, I have to share. This, by the way, came out on Facebook, so you know it's legit:
(See those time stamps and the "like" and "delete" buttons? See? It's legit. A bona fide compliment on a semi-public forum for others to read.)
Now, in Sheryl's defense, we normally reserve heavy conversations for the campfire or rugby tours or late night drives on the way to some rugby match (I bet you didn't know rugby players could be all deep and philosophical, eh? Stereotypes aren't always true.). But this was Facebook and it was, if you look at the time stamp, getting towards the witching-hour. And this is why I love Sheryl. We don't always agree, but we respect and listen to each other's perspectives. But seriously-- this was a great FB moment, when a few of my Facebook friends who don't know each other in the real world got to "talk" to each other about something as serious as religion. I like to start things, stir the pot a bit, rock the boat, you know? So I posted this:
And of course, a couple comments centered around how Mormons (or anyone who proselytizes door-to-door) are rude and knock on your door to tell you things you don't want to hear. I get it. I once dated a guy who answered the door and the knocker's question of "Did you know Jesus died for your sins?" with "I didn't know he was sick." And I laughed hard enough at that story that he didn't sit next to me for a few hours in case I got struck by lightning. But honestly, I'm glad these young boys came by-- they were earnest, and honest, and full of hope and a desire to change the world for what they thought was "the better." How much more different is that than a young 20-something who wants me to recycle more? Or stop buying clothes made in sweatshops? In some ways, it's not any different than the person who wants me to stop voting to support gay marriage-- that person thinks they're making the world a better place. Just because I disagree with passion, doesn't mean their intentions are any less honourable.
Danièle Bucar Coté I think I just totally confounded two very sweet, young Mormon "Elders" (who came up with THAT title for 20 year old, doe-eyed youngsters?!?). Literally-- at a couple points in the discussion they were speechless, and just looked at each other for help on how to answer my question. Poor little dears. But it was a pleasant, good-natured discussion...
I think it's really important for us to listen to things we don't want to hear. It's the only way we can truly grow. And also the only way to truly make the world a better place. The Mormon boys (I know, they're young men, but I could be their mother and they were really doe-eyed and innocent) called what they were preaching The Truth. The capital "Ts" were audible, I kid you not. But there is an old Native American saying (I'm not sure which tribe) that says "there are three sides to every story: yours, his, and the truth." And while the Mormons-- and many other more organizedly-religious people-- may believe that THEIR truth is The Truth, I believe that if we don't listen to things we don't want to hear, we won't ever get closer to THE TRUTH (yes, I mean all those capital letters).
I love those little Mormon Elders for sticking it out. They listened to me. They did. I know it because they looked confounded and a bit at a loss at times. They tried to discuss points I had made, but they just couldn't answer any of my questions without opening up all sorts of new questions that made them a little unsteady. And I swear-- I didn't say anything to purposefully unnerve them-- I didn't talk about premarital sex or adult toys or anything designed to make them blush or to disrespect their beliefs. It was a really nice discussion and I hope they come by the house again some time. I'd like to see what kind of argument they can make after telling their mentors (elder Elders?) about the conversation we had. I'd like to see how they're enjoying Maine.
I'd also like to encourage my friends-- and strangers-- to just talk it out with folks, more often. Don't be afraid of a little healthy discussion. Just keep the argument as logical and respectful as you can. You want to talk to me about gay marriage? Bring it on! Immigrants? Bring it on! Drilling for oil in Alaska? Bring it on! Let's talk to each other about it. Let's listen to each other about it. It's about trying to see every side of someone else's Truth, not just about making them see-- and adopt-- your Truth.
Umberto Eco said in his book, The Name of the Rose, that "truth is indivisible. It shines with its own transparency and cannot be diminished by our interests or our shame." We may never know the Truth for real. Or completely. But it's there. Always. And until we recognize that it is there; until we really make a truly honest effort to look at It from all sides and angles; until we recognize that It looks different to other people-- only then can we actually start to make this world a better place for everyone. Because if you're not dealing with reality, it doesn't mean it goes away or changes. It's always there. It's indivisible and cannot be diminished by what we want it to be or not be. It's time to listen to one another. To discuss with one another. To be open-minded about things that don't appeal to you. Think of it like brussell sprouts. Or asparagus (eww!). Keep tasting the different preparations-- even if it's just to keep confirming that you don't like the taste!
And Sheryl-- you are a beautiful person and a fantabulous friend. Don't you ever change, Lady! I am very lucky to have you in my life. You're awesome-- I don't care what your parents say. : p