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When God Bites You In the Butt

I try not to get angry at people when they disagree with me. It’s not because I’m a saintly woman. I’ve simply learned that when you get sanctimonious with someone, God will turn around and bite you in the butt.

As soon as I climb onto my soapbox and start chugging soap suds into the biosphere, I’m sure to be slapped in the face with the very activity I’m decrying. “Don’t judge!” I rant . . . only to immediately feel myself judging the next person who posts something ridiculous.

Jesus summed up this phenomenon with his “plank in your own eye” lesson, as well as his “the measure by which you shall be judged” warning. I think too often we take Jesus’s sayings as scoldings rather than simple truths: this is the way the world works. Listen and learn. Proceed at your own risk.

Here’s the other, more important thing that I’ve experienced over and over again. A friend or acquaintance or family member expresses something with which I deeply disagree. I get all worked up and label the person “that imbecile who doesn’t understand police violence.” Only to immediately learn he or she supports a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, or something else with which I agree.

Oh.

We don’t agree on this, but we agree on that? So is she stupid? Or wise beyond her years?  Or have I generalized my belief about her based on what I was interested in at the time, judged her, and self-righteously written her off? How unproductive is that?

If I wrote you off—maybe even told you off—I’ve lost the opportunity to work together on the issues on which we agree. You are a potential ally on an issue important to me, but I’ve ruined it. That’s the practical, everyday loss when you get on your high horse.

The other is the simple embarrassment when you realize, once again, God has bitten you in the butt.

A cross from my Making Crosses days (burlap, found string, found rubber, nail, grapevine wreath)

 

 

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Comments (12)

  • I was in a think tank in grad school where one of the participants of coming up with a way for pro choice and pro life people to come together to discuss in a meaningful way.

  • So true Ellen. I have experienced this many times, particularly in my life as a mother. Although my children are now in their 20’s and 30’s, I still remember being in the park with my two year old and watching some four year old push them out of the way in their rush to get to the slide. What a brat, I’d think. And where is this incorrigible child’s mother! Of course, 2 years later I’d be at the same park. My four year old no longer needed my hovering attention having mastered using a slide without pitching off the side. I’d catch the sight of my child pushing a two year old out of her way and see the mother of the two year old thinking what I had thought earlier. What a brat and where is this child’s mother! Uh-oh. My child, like the other four year old, was a typical rambunctious, impatient child. Not malicious but just not completely civilized yet. This happened over and over and eventually, I learned to curb my judgement over other poor parents. We were all just trying to do the best we could.

    I’m not sure that I had fully taken this lesson and applied it to political differences. And I certainly hadn’t thought of the lost opportunities to find common ground. Your blogs always make me pause and reflect and think.

    Thank you!

  • Very timely words, Ellen.
    I was facing this earlier this week as I foolishly plunged into a Facebook “debate” about the immigration crisis that US politics is causing for us up here in Canada. I have been trying to explain to many folks that refugees fleeing to Canada from the US, which has been normally considered a safe-haven, forces them to cross into Canada illegally and avoid manned border crossings. Many people on the thread hadn’t considered that many legitimate refugees, landed in the US and applying for refugee status there, are now spooked and running to Canada. Unfortunately, the US-Canada Safe Haven agreement currently disqualifies them if they report to border services, but oddly their claim will be heard if they enter illegally by foot!

    Yes–it’s a complicated subject and perhaps folks have been frustrated and angered by my 140-characters-or-less attempts to explain it. I have had angry and at times nasty comments stating that I want Canada to accept all illegal immigrants, ruin our country, and that I’m a likely Jihadist sympathizer! Then I start feeling hurt, threatened, and that these are ignorant, evil people who idolize Milos Y—whatshisname and I should just let them go F— themselves. It becomes so tempting to judge and label the people who don’t agree with your enlightened opinion as philistines!

    I ultimately recover, and I’ve had some encouragement here and there, so I remember that reaching out politely and earnestly still counts for something!

    BTW, I love the line, “As soon as I climb onto my soapbox and start chugging soap suds into the biosphere, I’m sure to be slapped in the face with the very activity I’m decrying.”

    • You are a braver person than I am—simply using the hashtag Black Lives Matter on a Twitter post once unleashed the worst vitriol I’ve ever experienced. Today I read the most interesting article from Read This Thing (which curates internet articles and shares them each morning) about the rise of 4chan. So, yes, the Milo sympathizers are happy when you are upset. But now I know more about immigrants fleeing to Canada, and I’m sure they do too (if they listened). Thanks for the soap suds support!

  • One of your best. When I get in high dudgeon over some issue, I usually find that I was at fault. So my resolve is to listen more and blow my stack less

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