Monday, May 2, 2011

An Historic Day and Leeway

I wanted to share links to two wonderful articles about how we react to news such as Osama bin Laden's death, two quotes, and then ask you a question.

The first article is from Bishop Jim Swilley's blog. I don't agree with him about "imagining no religion", nor about the "spontaneous celebrations", but the rest put in words things that I felt today.

The second article is from Susan Piver's blog. It is beautifully written and should not be missed.

The first quote is from Sylvain Coté and Kristine Mays on Facebook and they were quoting Martin Luther King, Jr:

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The second quote is from Marianne Williamson on Facebook:

 "I hope Bin Laden's death brings a sense of justice to those who lost loved ones on 9/11, and I'm grateful to those in our military etc. who worked so hard to find him. I hope whatever destructive influence he still had is now ended. That being said, however, the celebrations outside the White House seem naive to me. Tonight is a night for sober and mature reflection, not glee." ~Marianne Williamson

So...I am wondering what to do about people who react in unseemly ways to news like this. In the case of the revelers featured all over the news, it is easy just to turn off the television...I am frustrated, since I don't understand this mindset. Although I want to be charitable to what looked like a bunch of young people who aren't old enough to really understand the full implications of what they were doing, I find it difficult. How do you view them in a tolerant way?

And then there are the people with the hateful beliefs...they don't see them as hateful, of course. I think that an historic day like this brings emotions and beliefs to the surface. A Facebook friend of mine from high school voiced some odd beliefs about Obama. What she wrote was this:

THE NEW OSAMA is .... OBAMA.... The muslims promote the jihad and they WANT to die for their cause. I believe Osama stopped hiding since he accomplished what he wanted all along a "puppet" in the white house. ANd we americans sit and cheer as if our president is a hero.. SICK

On the one hand I wanted to share my beliefs with her. Years ago I was a fundamentalist Christian, didn't know I was hateful, didn't want to be hateful, yet I was. It was through knowing people who were outside of my church and through seeing how loving they were that I eventually left. It didn't make sense to me that people who didn't "have Jesus" could be so peaceful and caring and kind while people in my church were nasty, judgmental, and ridden with anxiety and fear like me. It took a long time before I could return to Christianity, having found a way to follow Jesus and yet at the same time not buy into the distortions of conventional American Christianity that can make it so hateful. So I feel love and compassion for her.

On the other hand, I don't want hate speech in my Facebook stream. I don't want to tolerate it, whether it is intentional or not. I don't want to tolerate it anywhere in my life for that matter! So I've been conflicted all day about what to do about it. Out and out bigots and racists are easy. But how do you handle people who may be great most of the time, but then something like this slips out? You feel the shock, the disgust,  you know you don't want it, you speak up (which I did), and then what? Do you unfriend them? Do you cut them out of your life altogether?

I have decided for now to delete her comments, but keep her as a Facebook friend, and hope that as she is exposed to life-affirming beliefs and people and to kindness she will yearn for something more. I am also telling her why I deleted her comments in an email so she knows.

I am a bit hesitant to take this approach, although ostensibly it seems to be the best. A better route might be to be like a much-admired friend of mine...she has strong boundaries and anytime anyone shows any sign of hate or drama or anything mean, she drops them hard as she wants to keep her life totally free of any toxicity whatsoever. In this way she maintains a very healthy lifestyle. I, on the other hand, have weak boundaries and am wanting to grow them to be stronger...I wonder if I set myself up for problems by not having strong enough boundaries and doing things like this. By leaving in "leeway". Am I weakend by leeway here?

Any views on this will be much appreciated. There is so much wisdom in my wonderful blog readers, thank you in advance!

UPDATE: Here is a talk ending in a meditation that soothed me tremendously by Marianne Williamson for those of you who would enjoy it (it's over an hour long, but balm right where I need my heart).


patti said...
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Olivia said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Patti. In addition, after some more reflection on this, I realized that it would be better to "hide" her stream on Facebook, at least for now. She is continuing with her own negative posts, and that is some toxicity and drama that I just don't want in my life right now. I probably will unfriend her; doing this bothers me though as unfriending is to me the same as saying you don't want the person in your life in any way at all.

I can appreciate the "roll off your back" approach. I am so darn sensitive (at least at this point in my life). I'll ruminate about things and try to understand them, try to figure them out, etc. when what I really need to do is let them go.

My friend from Arizona said "Ignorance is bliss" and she is so right that if I just let most things go--things that really don't work for me--I'd be a lot better off. This is a goal I have!

Practicing compassion for others and practicing self-care and setting boundaries--this is a balance I am beginning to explore. Thank you for your wisdom, Patti! xoO

Olivia said...

Gosh, I just got a visitor from Islamabad, Pakistan. I think I'll leave this topic in the dust and move on. See my post from Wellness Wednesday (today). Peace (really), xoO