When my daughter offered to help me create an Instagram account, I was clueless about everything including the bio.
At the time hers said, “I was born to be Belsnickle,” an homage to other fans of The Office. Following her lead, I wrote something silly, too.
I love cheese more than people.
It was a joke but in humor lie slices of truth (depending on the cheese and the person).
And yes, cheese is delicious. Cheese comes in endless varieties from many places around the world. Cheese differs in shape and color, consistency and taste. Cheese is gloriously diverse!
Here’s more truth: People are delicious. They come in endless varieties from many places around the world. They differ in shape and color, consistency and taste. People are gloriously diverse!
Yet on the news and Facebook and Twitter, during public debates and in private conversations, I’ve witnessed hatred aimed at others.
Painful, ugly, counterproductive hatred.
What begins as frustration festers. After tragedy our fear grows. We nurture sorrows, feed and water them. Anger multiplies and divides us.
Suddenly (or so it seems, but it is not sudden; it has been building) the rage explodes. From both sides come pointing fingers. Defensiveness and blame. Inhumanity toward innocents. It hurts to look so we turn away.
Side note: If this post leads you to conclude I have sympathy for mass-murderers, terrorists, and those who are truly evil, please click away now. Mine is not the site for you.
I write from a place of steep privilege. In most categories, I land on the favored side. So perhaps these words, coming from me, will rankle.
She can’t possibly understand.
This is accurate. But saying nothing is worse, isn’t it? I don’t know what else to do.
To be clear, having strong feelings doesn’t make someone wrong, heartless or ignorant. Neither does being wary of something new. Scientific studies suggest human beings are drawn to sameness. The more “like us” a group appears to be, the easier it is to “like” them. We’re prone to gathering in flocks that feel familiar but we mustn’t remain stuck in these comfort zones, never learning, asking, stretching.
Back to cheese.
Isn’t Brie awesome? Baked or raw. Dripping with compote. On crackers. Bread. In my mouth. Damn, it’s excellent stuff. Wait. What’s that? You don’t like Brie? The scent brings to mind dirty socks? Wow! Make sure to check the Village Bakery to get some bread recipes, they’ll go great with Brie!!
I disagree with you vehemently.
But guess what? Now that I know, I won’t make you eat Brie. Not ever. More for me, I say! It’s cool, man.
What would also be super-cool is if you didn’t take away my ability to serve, eat, and enjoy Brie simply because you might prefer cheddar. We can make space for both Brie and cheddar on the cheese plate. You see where I’m going with this?
Let’s take a collective step forward, widen our lens, demonstrate grace. On Earth’s plate there is room for diversity. Difference of opinion. Shifting attitudes.
Yes, there are causes worth fighting over. Yes, we must seek out injustice and right wrongs. Yes, this is challenging when we disagree on the cause or the injustice, when we disagree (perhaps vehemently) on what is right and what is wrong.
I’d like to think it’s not impossible.
A small first step would be to remember most of us have good intentions. Most of us are simply doing the best we can. Eating our cheese. Watching The Office. Crossing our fingers. Muddling through.
My own big, crazy world is filled with wonderful people. We’re loud and strange and nutty. We feel things deeply and love each other hard. We make mistakes then try to do better. In the end we want what’s best for our friends and for our families. For all our futures.
I assume your wonderful people do, too. And their people. And theirs.
Although we may differ on which path to take, most of us want goodness to win. And peace. Equality. Respect. Love.
No matter how disparate our views, there is so much that unites us. If we remember this, if we hold on to the hope that light still conquers dark, we might win the battle.
We might stop shouting and start listening.
We might discover we’ve been on the same side all along.