For years my wife and I spent Valentine’s Day working. It is a holiday we choose not to celebrate. We believe, and I have my entire life, that it is a made up holiday to do nothing than other than sell flowers, candy and jewelry. It does nothing to deepen or further love…in my opinion.
So, what does a couple like us do on such a day?
Well, friends of ours used to own flower shop. It’s a big day in the flower business so my wife would spent the day putting together beautiful arrangements and I spent the day delivering them. Seeing the faces of the people when I delivered their surprise gift was amazing. In a small way, I was a part of someone’s joy that day.
This part I played and the warm fuzzy I felt had little to do with how I feel about the holiday in general.
That got me to thinking about how similar that is to life in general. It also made me realize how far we’ve drifted from that simple idea.
What idea is that?
The idea that we can disagree and still care for and be civil to one another.
It really is a simple concept. I am against abortion. You may be ok with it. Now, the way it should be is that we discuss our thoughts on the subject, share opinions as well as data, and we move on; both richer for having shared our thoughts and receiving new things to think about. We may stand up from the table with the same view on the subject as we had when we sat down. It’s not about changing the other person’s mind.
It is about sharing ideas, conversation and mutual respect.
Pick any subject. I don’t care what it is.
Since this is a fairly one-sided conversation at this point I’ll pick one.
Let’s say religion.
I am a Christian. I believe with everything that I am that acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and repentance of sin is the ONLY way to reach Heaven in the afterlife. There simply is nothing that will change my mind on that. I read many texts from other religions when I was young and I sought out information on the accuracy of Christian works. I am convinced what I know and believe is true.
That said, I will break bread, or share a pint of ale or a cup of coffee with any person who wishes to discuss the nature of faith.
It doesn’t matter what religion they are or if they have none. Some of the most interesting conversations I have ever had on the subject were with Muslims, Rabbis, Zen Masters and Pagans. We openly discussed what we believed and thought. We were receptive and respectful and we parted company refreshed in a way that can only come from good conversation.
But as a society we’ve largely lost that.
Today, and for a long while now, a difference of opinion turns to name calling, shaming and hate. Also included are protests that accomplish nothing except violence, terror and destruction. We can’t just disagree. We have to be mortal enemies. We can’t share ideas. We can’t open ourselves to ideas different from our own or to the possibility that we may be wrong…or at least missing key information.
I thought about these things as I helped so many people celebrate a holiday that I don’t celebrate. I felt happy seeing the joy I brought even if only as the middle man in the transaction. I can appreciate those moments without agreeing with the holiday as a concept. I can do that with a myriad other subjects too. I can do that because I truly have respect and love for all people and I am secure enough to share in their joy even if it not my own.
If you can’t do those things I suggest you try to learn how because you truly are missing out.
Published on: October 9, 2021