I just went through my google alerts on women’s and gay rights. Inevitably there is be a piece that makes me want to scream at the author and/or throw things. However, my cat hates it when I do this, so I’ve worked on controlling the outbursts.
I read these things, and I get angry. I start having fights with people in my head, trying to find that phrase that will magically make them see the error of their beliefs and instantly hop on to my (the right 😉 ) side of the issue. I side that I believe is built upon compassion and flexibility and a willingness to step in someone else’s shoes. Well, as long as that someone else isn’t spewing hate speech. Being the good progressive, save-the-world person that I am, that impulse to prove X wrong and convince them of my point of view is very strong. However, if they start from a place where they believe something like LGBTQIA folk do not deserve any rights at all, then that person clearly doesn’t deserve my time and mental powers. It’s hard to let go, but the older I get, the more I realize that the people I want to talk to are people with whom it will be a conversation. If someone is a bigot, then I won’t change hir mind. But if someone is a person who is open to change, who may have beliefs with which I disagree but does believe that people should be treated equally and with respect, then that is where I want to spend my time convincing.
I try to have these conversations with people. It’s very difficult. I am a very competitive person by nature, and I like to win way more than I would like to admit. I am learning to slow down, to be willing to walk from where a person is rather than where I think zie should be. I hope that in the lessons I have to learn that the person who walks that journey with me will apply the same patience.
The hardest part in this new method is being okay with someone else’s discomfort. I want them to whole-heartedly agree with and jump on the activist wagon proclaiming their new found beliefs from the mountain-tops (which I believe are located on YouTube now). But it’s okay for someone to be uncomfortable with abortion but think that it should be legal. It’s okay for someone to be uncomfortable with gay [insert right] but believe that we are all equal and not seek to limit anyone’s rights.
Actually, as I’m typing this, I think that discomfort is a good thing. My undergrad degree is in theatre, focusing on acting. Discomfort and losing your lines were indications that something is changing, growing. We should embrace people’s discomfort as indications that they are growing. (Note to self: Remember this in your own uncomfortable times)
In conclusion, it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty.
Embracing and journeying with those people with whom we are lucky enough to influence will help us reach that world we can’t wait to see. May it come sooner than we expect.