12.18.2008

Consorting with the Enemy

The LGBT community and other political activists are hyperventilating about President-elect Obama’s choice of the Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration on January 20th. Warren is aligned with the far right wing of the republican party. Click here to read more.

He is pro birth (my term for pro lifers). He is against allowing gays and lesbians to marry. Those two stances have angered many of Obama’s supporters, who are now questioning Obama’s stance on those two agendas.

This argument points out one of the things that has gone really, really wrong with America. We refuse to listen to people who disagree with our chosen stances. Every debate is not a war. Every argument or disagreement is not the end of a friendship. Differences of opinion don’t mean that you must hate the person who has those different feelings.

What it is, is a learning experience, a chance to expand your thinking. Talking to someone with different ideas forces you to find ways to strengthen and reinforce your own beliefs, or to question them, and maybe, to see the error of your ways. Either way, you learn something.

One of my closest friends is a member of Right to Life, and has been since it was founded in the 1970s by the Wilkes, here in Cincinnati. In fact, she was the one who first told me about the pro life organization. I have never agreed with anything that Right to Life stands for. Ever. We wrote letter after letter to each other and spent hour after hour, over the phone (she lives in Boston) talking and attempting to convince each other. It sometimes got heated. Sometimes, we took a week or two time out, between communications. But nearly 35 years later, we’re still friends, who still argue. We just agree to disagree.

I have similar arrangements with my sisters, my siblings. There are things we can’t talk about to each other. But my sisters are my family. They can tick me off royally, but hate, not listen, can’t do it.

Another pet peeve is the current fad of shouting down the other person or of not waiting for them to finish their point, before you’re jumping in their face. Nobody wins in the crosstalk. It’s a lost conversation....a lost opportunity to learn something, maybe. You can’t always assume that you know more than the other person to whom you’re talking. It's also extremely rude and disrespectful. There is a reason why teachers made you raise your hand before speaking in class.

And that is what drew me to Obama, one of the main things, actually. He listens, to everyone. Then he makes up his mind.

He does not fear hearing something different than what he may believe, even after he has taken a public stance on the issue. We should not fear difference of opinion, either. Because it is simply that.....a difference of opinion. You can still be friends if you want, or not. But you can and should work to implement your beliefs. In the end, however, everybody goes home a little better for the effort.

Bottom line, you learned something....isn’t that what life is all about anyway?
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