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.


Last Modified on September 16, 2017
This entry was posted in Life
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32 thoughts on “Cheeses

  1. I have nothing more enlightening to add than, “Yep.” And that I love cheese, and won’t hate on those who love the stanky ones that make my face turn inside out. A chacun ses fromages.

    • Julie Gardner

      I have yet to meet a cheese I didn’t like, Cam.
      Can’t say the same about people, but I’m always willing to try.

  2. I was told there would be Gouda if I clicked!

    As always, well-said. In times of tragedy, lately, I find myself shutting down. Getting away. I won’t say that I’m burying my head in the sand, because I demand to keep myself well-read on any matter that my brain deems “pertinent,” but I shut up about it. People who feel scared are often looking to hurt. And it’s far too easy to say things in a time of crisis that can’t be taken back. And it’s far easier to type things than it is to say them.

    I think it’s IMMENSELY important to understand those who perpetuate “the evil” in this world. To go with a old-enough, non-evil, but wacky side note: Nothing is going to make me pick up & head to the Alaskan Wilderness, but I have found myself absolutely fascinated by Alexander Supertramp. Knowing what made him “tick” and why he chose the paths in life that he chose, well, I can look into my own life, and chose DIFFERENTLY. Even though I have zero desire to freeze to death in an abandoned school bus, I feel like, if I didn’t know McCandless’s tale, I’d feel the need to wander north to understand him.

    • Julie Gardner

      I love that you took your comment in a direction I hadn’t considered.
      My fascination with Alexander Supertramp (McCandless) remains with me as well long after I read Into the Wild.
      Karly will be reading that book this year.
      Can’t wait for the dinnertime conversations.
      (And, as always, THANK you for your consistently thoughtful commentary, my friend.)

  3. Cheese and kindness in one lovely essay? You crafted this beautifully, and your words are on point.

    • Julie Gardner

      Thanks so much, Angela. Two of my favorite topics in one post and one of my favorite commenters.
      What could be better? 🙂

  4. Diane

    I love cheeses and you! As always, heartfelt and profound. The sentiment “I love cheeses” has so much meaning and you know what I’m talking about, don’t you!

    • Julie Gardner


      I do indeed know and I LOVE you for knowing, too.
      (And for a whole lot of other reasons along with it.)

  5. Kelly Ortiz

    I love cheese too, all different kinds!

    Julie, thank you for your words, your understanding, your kindness. You truly set a standard for all to believe in and follow.

    • Julie Gardner


      Thanks for reading, understanding, sharing AND commenting 🙂
      Love you, friend.

  6. Amen! Love that last line.

    • Julie Gardner

      Thanks, Nina.
      Your endorsement means a lot!

  7. I love Brie. A chacun ses fromages indeed!

    • Julie Gardner

      Next writer’s group: ALL the Brie. And sherbet with Prosecco.
      I have typed it now and so it shall be done.
      Or not.
      Either way, I’ll have fun because you’ll be there.

    • Julie Gardner

      See also: have noted that Brie is capitalized. Oops!
      Edited post. Thanks for indirectly teaching me something new.
      (How could I love something so much and not know to capitalize it?)

  8. Shana

    Please run for President. Of the world.

    • Julie Gardner

      Only if you’ll be my VP of awesomeness.
      Love you so much, Shana!

  9. Julie, if I didn’t love you so much, I’d hate you. 1.) Because your words always leave me breathless and you always say what I am thinking, but so much more beautifully than I ever could and 2.) because you’d eat all my brie (and still be so effing skinny). But you’re lucky, because I love you, I love your words, and I will happily share my cheese. (Or maybe it’s me who is the lucky one!)

    • Julie Gardner

      MUTUAL LUCK! (I’d shout it but isn’t this post about listening, not shouting?)
      So glad you’re in my life and on this road with me.
      I love you more than Brie. And that says a lot.

  10. Grilled Cheesus for all!

    I love you. And I WANT BRIE when I come to visit.

    • Julie Gardner

      Yes! We will have ALL THE BRIE.
      (Book the tickets now.)

  11. Donna Kendig

    Simply, you are an amazing writer and person! I know your parents are very proud of you. Somehow I have fallen off your e-mail list. Please include me again. Another Brie lover!!!

    • Julie Gardner

      Thanks so much for the sweet comment! When I converted my blog to an author page I lost all my subscribers but we’re working to fix the problem. If you’d like, you can resubscribe – there’s an option on the right side of every page here.
      I appreciate your support and kind words SO MUCH! 🙂

  12. Mom

    I think whomever raised you did an amazing job introducing you to the joys of cheese. XO

    • Julie Gardner

      They did indeed, whoever this is.
      (They also introduced me to the wonders of an all-you-can-eat buffet. The gift that keeps on giving.)

      p.s. Love you!

  13. I recently discovered goat cheese on pizza is delicious and I’ve never met a cheddar I didn’t like.

    • Julie Gardner

      I’m suspicious of people who don’t like cheddar.
      (Okay. Not really. It’s just more for you and me.)

      Goat cheese on pizza, however, is something I haven’t tried.
      My goal for the weekend has been established 🙂

  14. How wonderful a perspective, to acknowledge that we need each other to support all sides of a problem and solution. Often there are many sides to a story, and we need people to support them. We should agree on some things, but the rest is left for us all to learn and teach. And for all those things that are right and good and true, we need support. From all sides.

    • Julie Gardner

      I so appreciate your comment, Andrea. Thank you for reading and understanding.
      (I hope you know how much I love your thoughts.)

  15. I love a post that begins with something as simple as cheese and builds up to something as profound as the idea of this crazy world of wonderful people coming together, listening and loving hard:) Beautiful Julie.

  16. I was saving this post for when I felt more contemplative. My heart swells reading it. My interpretation, which is weird and seemingly out of the blue, is “shut up and write.” It doesn’t make sense to anyone, but it might make sense to you since you know my struggle. Steep privilege.

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