The Buddha taught complete honesty, with the extra instruction that everything a person says should be truthful and helpful. – Sylvia Boorstein (author of That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist)
I was going to write about the fabulous party Laura hosted at Blushington last night. About the incredible eye makeup (courtesy of Emma) that I will never be able to replicate, although I’ll try. But instead, I’m thinking about religion and politics and blogging and dating. But they’re all related really.
Laura recently wrote a a narrative, told over several posts, about her deeply rooted faith. I’d said to her, before she’d published it (or I’d read it), that I thought it what she was doing was important. I don’t believe that religion or politics have to be so polarizing, online or in real life.
I was raised with some connection to Christianity, but a larger foundation in Judaism (both more culturally and historically than religiously per se) — for many years we belonged to a synagogue where the rabbi had been a former Buddhist and began all services with meditation. Coexist, right? Growing up, a menorah was lit beside the glowing Douglas fir. Holidays and observances, of any kind, were about tradition and family gatherings rather than a specific ideology. I was raised to see that people live in many different ways, and those differences didn’t make one “right” and the other “wrong.” Oh, what an awakening to grow up and see not everyone lives that way. Coexist, people, coexist.
Last night, I was talking with Laura and Summer, who makes her faith a regular dialog in her writing, about how the more bloggers have intelligent, heartfelt discussions about what they believe in, the better we can see that these aren’t all or nothing issues. Can one write about their faith or politics but not be forced into a specific box to please a particular audience? Can readers respect me if they agree with what I write about growing up in Hollywood or believing in social netiquette, but also respect me if they disagree when I say I support Planned Parenthood?
If blogs encompass each writer in all aspects of their lives, can readers respect that? What about in real life?
Amongst friends, I said, I think this is possible. In dating? Not so much.
Once upon a time, when I’d imagine the man I’d marry, religion and politics weren’t at the top of my list. I mean, they were there, but in subtle shades, not neon blinking signs.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there seemed to be more hazy space between conservative and liberal platforms.
Once upon a time, just about a year ago, I thought I might be able to find that space.
A set-up by a friend seemed intriguing. He didn’t live in LA, so we began to talk by phone regularly. He was really nice and that, above all, is what made me want to keep talking, hoping to find myself with reasons for his beliefs not to matter. But I couldn’t be open-minded enough about what seemed like narrow thinking to me. One man’s definition of a handout is another woman’s definition of humanity, I guess. The fact he was nice wasn’t enough. Then I had doubts – was I too judgmental?
No, I don’t think so.
It comes down to this: I’ll respect a friend’s beliefs as long as they do not require me to believe them, too. But I cannot imagine sharing my life, and raising a family, with a man who doesn’t (mostly) share mine. How Matalin and Carville do it is beyond me.
This campaign year is going to test all sorts of friendships, and probably some marriages too. Dating right now seems daunting.
In social media circles, almost daily I hear someone speaking of an unfollowing or unfriending. Of someone learning something “they wish they didn’t know” about a friend or colleague.
Coexistence is possible. I believe it. Maybe not in marriage, but amongst friends, I think it is. And that’s something worth attempting.
Unlike the eye makeup from last night, perhaps it’s easier than it looks. xo a.