During times of crisis I do two things, write and reflect. I dislike reacting only; therefore, after the presidential election I stopped to reexamine my beliefs once again resulting in my last post. So much of what you see is declarations of “if this is so, then this is so” as if life were only a series of directly opposing forces.
As a Buddhist, one of my mantras is moderation in all things – in other words, walk the middle path. Even as a teenager I would parse out the pros and cons and see the middle ground. So after careful consideration I was able to find one and only one important belief where I could not see my way to compromise. I’m going to use that one as an example – not as just a way to promote that belief.
That one issue is abortion. But even as I stand unbudging, there is a flip side to it. My body, my choice. I remind myself of that anytime I see someone with expensive tattoos who seems to own nothing more or who might find certain jobs closed to them because of their ink. I have always used that approach with the topic of sex. Your bedroom, your choice. Your partner, your choice and even your promiscuous (and possibly dangerous) behavior, your choice. I do still remember laws that prohibited certain types of sexual behavior in one’s own bedroom with one’s own heterosexual partner in Georgia. Never the government’s business.
My body, my choice has a corollary – your body, your choice. I simply think it’s none of my business and expect the same in return. In all of that I’m not telling you I’m pro abortion. I have no earthly idea what I would do if faced with that choice today.
That same type of dilemma has existed for me this week following the nazi invasion of Charlottesville. We are all so upset and angry, many of us lashing out at each other if one does not follow the party line. Since I don’t do political correctness very well to start with and do believe in a middle way, there have been some statements that I found that personally rankled me. One adamant statement has been that if you were against removing the statues, you are racist.
I really don’t want to get into that discussion even though I have spent countless hours over months thinking on this topic. I believe there is a continuum of thought – not absolutes here. As a 66 year old Georgia-raised southerner, I have had experiences way beyond that of a 30 or 40 year old that have deeply affected me. It does take that history of living before and after school segregation to find common ground with me and many others of my age group. Then that leads to many different points on that continuum as well.
My stance has brought me into conflict with a number of people I have liked and respected for a long time, especially since last weekend’s events. It is not an either / or dilemma. This is not a time to speak only to the entrenched extreme ends of that spectrum. Especially now. It is time to stop and reflect on where do we want to go from here. What is important for America’s future? Not just that of the South or any particular race, religion or ethic status but the future of our nation.
I have shed tears during my intense soul searching. I have written treatise after treatise in my head. I have listened (yes, I listened to you even though no one has been willing to listen to me) and I have searched my history and my soul. I had finally gotten to a place where I thought I could write a reasonable defense of my stance when my brother suggested to write it and not send it to the two people who know me best here whose opinion mattered to me.
Clarity came with hours. I suddenly knew that my heart was pure. I suddenly saw that the only place where this matters is in my heart. I know who I am; I know how I treat – have always treated – people; I know that I will continue to act according to my beliefs and conscience in the future.
If one gets that reasoned gift at any point in his or her life, then it is all worth it. I do not need to defend myself. I’m all right.