Friday, September 19, 2014

Charity: Really Good People Can Believe Really Bad Things

I had an experience a long time ago that is a great example of why I try so hard to understand people as well as possible and not reject them, even as I reject things they say and believe. I was thinking about it again recently, and decided to post my thoughts about it here. 

I have a long-term friend, someone I admire greatly in many ways, who is a wonderful, caring person - overall. She would do anything for family and friends in order to try to help them. She has had many experiences that I accept as profound, spiritual, enlightening, etc. There is so much to love and respect about her. I really do love her dearly - but it's hard for me to be around her for any extended period of time. A recent experience with someone else brought that up in my mind again.

She is a political extremist, and her extreme is on the other side of the middle from where I am politically. She will corner people and explain, in dire terms, what is coming if her political agenda is not established - if the wrong candidate is elected (in whatever election is next, at whatever local or national level). The world isn't just falling apart; the end of all we hold dear is imminent. Frankly, I believe she is over the paranoia line in that area - and listening to her conspiracy theories is nearly unbearable for me.

I really do love her - and she really is, at heart, a kind, caring, loving, dedicated person. It's just hard to remember that in the moment as soon as she inevitably starts on a political diatribe. It's not worth answering her openly, especially since she doesn't talk in church like she does privately (as she understands that church isn't the place to discuss politics at her desired level for private conversations).

I have learned a lot from her over the years I have known her. She is intelligent and insightful in many ways.

My point is simple:

My dear friend is fully human, and I can't blame or castigate her for that. I love her as deeply as I do only because I've stuck around long enough to see, to some degree, the full person she is - even as I want to run away screaming quite often when she launches her soap box missiles. If we weren't members of the same church, I wouldn't have gotten to know her as well as I do - and that would have been a shame, even as it hasn't been easy to deal with her regularly.

I try to remember that whenever I start expecting others to be all that I would like them to be - and I try also to remember everyone who talks with me and walks away shaking their heads at my own beliefs, but who also continue to talk with me, regardless. It's easy to forget how many people there are in that group - and it's important for me to model the charity and patience so many people have shown and continue to show me.