Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tolerance. Just Do It.

Dicky and I met when we were 12 the weekend his sister married my brother. Instant family. First, by marriage and then, later, after the divorce, by choice.

His name isn't really Dicky, by the way. I call him Dicky. He calls me Cassandra. The whys and wherefores are no longer relevant. I'm not quite sure myself why or wherefore anymore. It's just how it is...our pet names for each other.

Over the years, we've kept in touch even though we've not seen each other since we were 20. We read each others' blogs, we comment on each others' Facebook postings, we share a few secrets...some old, some relatively new. And while we are not close like I'm close to Acr0nym or the Divatologist or any number of friends, we are, you know, family and I don't mean that in an obligatory, eye rolling way.

Dicky, as he grew into adulthood, grew more and more conservative...some people might say fundamentally so. As a doctoral seminary student of orthodox Christianity, in fact, he's not only politically conservative but socially so. This means, as I'm sure you can guess, he and I disagree on nearly every social issue possible.

However. He loves me. I love him. And because we love each other, we have managed to maintain our relationship with one another, even though on more than one occasion had it been with any other person a heated, potentially explosive, harmful argument would have arisen, by always - and I mean ALWAYS - treating each other with respect. Dare I say, reverently so.

This morning, Dicky posted a link to an article about transgender people attempting to change their birth certificates to another sex...the sex with which they identify...with the following comment:

People who have removed or reconfigured their genitals think that they've changed their sex. They haven't. And now this? The confusion in this culture is astounding.


Oh, Dicky.

Of course I commented. You KNOW I commented. Despite loving him, you have to know this comment upset me and I was unwilling to let it slide. He and I then had a thoughtful, respectful exchange about our beliefs without attacking one another personally and, overall, I felt good about our exchange.

However, many of you would ask me why I would continue to keep him a part of my life when his beliefs differ so very much from my own. You might question how in the world I can continue to love him when his outlook is so very rigid and would seem to have me doomed to his god's hell.

Because. I love him. He is a good person. A good man.

Kinda like I loved Andrew - a good person and a good man - despite our differences of opinion on everything. And if you think I didn't love Andrew, know that I nearly married him.

Dicky and I, we disagree on everything because of the religious line in the sand we've drawn. Yet, we can discuss quietly between the two of us our points of view, making our cases, and continuing to love each other even though we don't see eye to eye.

And you might think this is crazy but he's taught me tolerance. Tolerance of religiosity. Perhaps I am teaching him open-mindedness.

Through love.

That's why I keep him in my life. Because he teaches me and I teach him. And that's the only way we're going to win the fight against prejudice, People.

By tolerating everyone. Respecting everyone. Teaching everyone. And I do mean everyone.

Which fills me with profound sadness. Because it doesn't feel possible.


Franklin Taggart said...

One problem with the love fest. He believes you're going to hell. His relationship with you, despite the history, will always be colored by this belief. Underneath the pleasantries and willingness to agree to disagree, there is an ugly streak of judgment that is not tolerant in the least.

Just Jane said...

Oh, yes, Frank, I'm certain he does believe I'm going straight to hell in a handbasket. That's on him and bothers me not in the slightest.

In missing my point, you've helped me prove my point. Tolerance isn't one-directional. Not only is it his responsibility to be tolerant, at least in our interactions, of not be openly disdainful or derogatory even though I know he disagrees with just about everything I stand is also MY responsibility to be tolerant of him and his beliefs and not name call or dismiss him and his beliefs.

The comment he made that started this whole thing was absolutely derogatory and upsetting. I called bullshit on him and that led to a thoughtful, respectful exchange between us and made us both think about what direction the other was coming. Did I change his mind? I doubt it. Did he change mine? Nope. But we had a conversation where neither of us got defensive or ugly and, instead, treated each other with tolerance and respect.