I want to say first and foremost that this is not a post about gay marriage. So please don't make it about that.
Nor is it really about religion. This is not about debate, or proselytising or converting. I really don't care right now what you think or where you stand and I am not going to tell you right now what I think. About anything. This isn't about any of it. I've just been thinking about this a lot lately, as the result of many accumulating experiences, and I just need to get this out.
What this is about is kindness, respect, and compassion. Always.
I will tell you that what I believe is that everyone is deserving of respect no matter what. (Ok, unless they are hurting or somehow abusing people or animals. But, other than that...)
I believe that the most good can come from approaching you at the table and sitting with you at your side of the table and trying to understand your point of view.
I believe that curiosity and wanting to understand why someone thinks the way they do and how they came to think that way is more beneficial than shoving my point of view down their throat. Understanding. When's the last time we tried to really understand someone else whose thoughts are completely different or even opposing our own? Have we ever tried to do it? Are we so afraid that we will change our view that we can't even entertain their viewpoint? Here's the secret: they will never be able to convince us just by argument. So don't be afraid to be quiet and listen. And the other secret: we will never be able to convince them. So be quiet and listen.
I believe that harshly criticizing, belittling, minimizing, or making fun of someone's deeply held convictions or beliefs is not respectful. And that there are ways to disagree, discuss and debate without doing those things. I know it's possible.
I know there is kind of a platitude out there that we "choose to be offended" but I don't buy into it. It takes responsibility off of the speaker to say whatever they choose, offensive or not. But that's not true. Words matter. What you say and the way you say it, matters. We choose what we say. Sometimes we make mistakes in those choices. I know I do and I regret plenty of them. But we learn from them and we try to do better. If anyone has ever felt like I am not listening to their point of view or that I have been offensive, please let me know. I would like to reconcile that. I'm serious.
I believe we matter and words are important. I'm a word person. This is something that is important to me.
You matter and the way you speak matters.
That's what I believe.
And finally, I am committed to removing people from my life who do not consistently treat me with kindness, respect and compassion. There are no excuses.
(PS - the facebook page TBK (To Be Kind) is one of my favorites and definitely worth looking at. I believe in it.) :)