Last week I blogged about a difference of opinion I have with Loni from Joy in the Morning and the next day she blogged about another topic where she and I see things from a different perspective. That post just about did me in, not because of anything Loni said but because I was in the middle of dealing with this very topic among a group of friends.
I was frustrated and I was angry and to see it appear on my bloglines feed was almost too much. You’re probably nodding your head in understanding but unless you were involved with this private and personal "discussion" you’re going to be surprised if you keep reading… you see I was on the side in support of people like Loni who are posting their disappointment in Wal-mart’s contribution to Out & Equal: Workplace Advocates Summit.
I was going to blog about this subject in the "heat of the moment" but I had connection woes and a busy weekend and I’ve just let it slide since then. Now, Loni is back at it with a new post so here I am and I hope you’ll keep reading. This isn’t a rant, in the traditional sense, this is about values I want my child to have. This is about helping Michelle handle situations where she is confronted with a "different" point of view.
In my oh so heated discussion, a friend suggested that people who post blog entries just like the two Loni has posted are exhibiting behavior that is similar to the KKK. That, to me, is appalling and offensive and I simply cannot advocate or support anyone’s attempt to drop the KKK label simply because they are personally offended by the post. It was also suggested that when people post this type of message they are "bigots" and "attempting to take rights away from me", which I find a little bit of a stretch. These two things apparently give some GLBT folks and some liberal straight folks license to go on the attack and to treat people like Loni in ways that I simply cannot condone or support.
Let’s look at this closely. Loni is an American woman who has the right, and even the responsibility, to share her feelings (moral and political ) with people she knows or comes into contact with. If she feels strongly about something, then in this country (and at Clubmom) she should say so. That doesn’t in any way infringe on my rights to do the same thing. I also have the right, and even the responsiblity, to make my feelings known as well. Long live the USA and Clubmom!
Look closely at Loni’s two posts, at no time did she personally attack me (or any GLBT person). I don’t believe she’s going to come over to my blog and burn a cross in my comments. I don’t expect she’s going to call me names or in some way intimidate me or make me worry for my personal safety or even do something to cause me to feel censored. So why would I get all bent out of shape and angry and attack her? I wouldn’t… but others I know would and this is what bothers me.
I am all in favor of standing up for what you believe in. I’m all in favor of speaking out in opposition of someone else’s position if I disagree. I just don’t believe I can do that effectively or honestly if in the back of my mind I’ve labeled Loni a bigot or if I’m considering her to be exhibiting KKK type behavior. If that’s what I’m thinking and feeling then nothing I’m saying is worth listening to.
That’s what I want to teach my daughter.
Michelle is young, but she’s growing up fast. There was a time when she only saw things in black & white. If she believed in something or felt strongly about something, then anyone who believed otherwise was WRONG and BAD and EVIL and UNWORTHY and Michelle would react or speak with anger. She would go on the attack. Of course she would, she was young and immature and afraid or hurt.
As she’s gotten older, she’s become better able to see extremism for what it is – harmful and unhelpful. She’s listened to her friends, incredibly liberal friends, make sweeping statements that she simply can’t support. She’s listened to her friends condemn the "other side" without realizing that they are doing EXACTLY the same thing those they are condemning seem to be doing. They think that’s just fine because, well, they’re right! Michelle is learning to see the grey.
She is also learning that behind every hot button issue are real live people. People who don’t always agree with each other, but are just as good and kind and honest as the next person. I hope that if she can see the person she’s disagreeing with, then she will never find herself calling someone a bigot, without just cause and she won’t ever attach that KKK label to the person who simply disagrees with her point of view. Or to the person who is taking a political or moral stand opposite hers.
Loni and I are very different. I’m a lesbian, she is heterosexual. She’s a Christian, I am not. But Loni and I are also very similar. We both homeschool We both have large families. Loni lost a child to what was probably the "choking game" and my son lost a friend in very similar circumstances. Loni does not support Walmart’s contribution to Out & About and I do. And I think that’s fine, she can write her letters. I can write mine. She can boycott Walmart and I can continue to shop there (except I hate shopping). I’m cool with our similarities and our differences. I’m cool with her blogging about her beliefs and I assume she is ok with me blogging about mine.
It’s all about recognizing the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings – and remembering that when we’re faced with people who are different than we are, or issues that hit close to home. I hope, I really hope, Michelle continues to grow in this direction and I’m going to do everything I can do to help her get there.