On being a “good” person June 28, 2015

This blog post was written on June 28, 2015, two days after the US Supreme Court granted Marriage Equity for gay and lesbians.  It was written in response to a Facebook post by a conservative who was not as pleased as I was with this historic ruling.

I saw a meme on Facebook today that really made me stop and pause. It said, “No matter how good a person you are, there will always be someone criticizing you.” Now, this post could have been about literally anything going on in this person’s life, but in light of all the monumental things going on in our world this week, it is hard not to look it in the context of our politics and personal views. 

This meme made me think about several different things:

1) We can NEVER make EVERYBODY happy. Simply not possible. Trying to please everyone causes us no end of frustration and indecision and sometimes leads us to stay silent and complicit when we should be firm and unapologetic. That is not to say that there is no value in compromise or consensus, but compromise and consensus are both hard work, time-consuming and require all parties involved to value finding a middle ground. Five years as head of the School Community Association at a Quaker school taught me that finding consensus rarely means that we find a solution that everyone is in agreement about and happy with.  More often, consensus means that we have come to an understanding of what the will of the group is and are ready to move on.

2) Just because someone does not share our personal beliefs or politics does not mean that either of us are “bad” people. It would be so much easier to write off the other person as “bad” or “wrong”– it is ALWAYS easier to write someone off than to critically consider whether the other person, whose values and beliefs are SO different from ours, has a valid point of view. Many of us carry around the values we were taught as a young child and we can become extremely protective of them.  To have them criticized feels like a personal criticism, a criticism of our heritage, family of origin, of all the things we hold dear.

Others of us have had transformative experiences that have made us question the values we were raised with, and see people and the world, as something different than we imagined it. We can become compelled and energized to challenge ourselves and others to shepherd our households, communities, states and countries to become the best versions of themselves, places that are rich with true equality and social justice.

I am deeply sorry if “good” people are feeling criticized and attacked this week and that they feel that their way of life is being criticized and attacked, but I feel that all “good” people in this country owe it to themselves and their loved ones and their communities not to practice “willful ignorance.” I am trying hard to understand and respect your point of view, to see your truth in it, and I hope that you will do the same for me.

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