on the issues [i don’t talk about much].

I like to think my best friend(s) would say that I don’t really address many social, political, or religious issues in conversation. I ask questions sometimes. I provide opinions – when asked – sometimes. And I have them (opinions) – lots of them. But ever since college I’ve learned it’s better to listen.

I listen a lot. To the news, to the radio, to my coworkers, to my friends. I read way too much online and then text my neighbor and my brothers about all the ways they think that a stranger could enter my apartment while I am at work and be there to attack me when I get home. (Yeah, I read a lot of crime stories.)

It took me a long time to really cement my social opinions. I remember having a pro life or pro choice opinion my freshman year in college, then having a conversation with a girl on my floor and reversing that opinion. I don’t know how many times I’ve reversed it since then but it hasn’t changed in years.

My opinions don’t align with a particular political party. And they’re not all aligned with my church (or denomination) either.

I feel as though I’m very open minded about everything – with the exception of close minded people. I believe in what I believe and I understand (and respect) that people have their own opinions too. And I devour discussions with open minded people and their want to discuss politics and issues and have the ability to view those issues from both sides. Because that’s what I think is the key to everything – the ability to see things from both sides of the fence. It’s the inability to see that – the attitude of I’m right, you’re wrong – that I do not understand.

A couple of years ago my best friend and my mom both said to me, when I was upset about something, that it was difficult for rational thinking people to understand the actions of irrational people. It’s something that has stuck with me since – and something that I find myself continually getting tripped up on.

It’s difficult for me to comprehend people that fail to view things from both sides of the aisle.

People suffer in different ways. People grow up in different backgrounds. People live different experiences, have different struggles, withstand different teachings. And the only way any peace can be had – far and wide or even at your kitchen table – is by being respectful.

I believe in a few simple truths. All people are created equal. We are all imperfect. It is better to witness through action than through prosthelytizing. (Meaning: I would rather someone see God’s grace through me than be preachy to someone who isn’t ready. I would rather have someone ask me about my social opinion because they respect me than throw it in their face in the form of a facebook status.)

I believe in studying a religion that helps you grow spiritually and as a person. I believe that none of us have the answer – despite the number of times I ask my dad what his opinion is (which I then often argue with). I believe that those who condemn others are most likely to be condemned (hello, glass houses). And I believe we should all love thy neighbor (even if they walk so heavily they shake the pictures on your walls and wake you up like mine did this morning).

Someone once told me that when they were in an AA meeting that the teacher/advisor (I have no idea who the lead guy is at an AA meeting) told everyone to write their biggest “thing” (problem/struggle/issue) on a piece of paper and put it in a hat in the center. They were then told to draw someone else’s scrap of paper out of the hat. And then they were asked, “Would you want to trade problems with your neighbor?” And the answer from everyone was a resounding no.

I try to think about that when I’m late for work or worried about a family member or struggling over scripture or conflict. I try to be thankful for my struggles.

I try not to think that I know more than anyone else because, believe me, I do not. I try to be friends with everyone and if sometimes somebody brings me down, I try to be friends with them in a different way, a way in which protects my heart from hurt but isn’t hurtful to them.

I keep my opinions to myself. I don’t even venture to have opinions on the national debt beyond, well, shouldn’t it be lowered somehow? And I had someone differentiate between Medicaid and Medicare to me last week but I can’t remember yet again so I’ll just say: I think a lot of people know more about that than I and therefore I defer to them.

And last, but certainly not least, I believe we should all just try to spread a little bit of happiness wherever we are.

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