Friday, February 5, 2016

Prayer is all we have

Most of us -- if we're lucky -- have friends or family members whose political and/or religious perspectives differ widely from our own.  The family members we deal with because they're family, but the friends, well -- they must have redeeming qualities or they wouldn't still be our friends.  Because it's sometimes very difficult to stay in relationship with them when they espouse ideas that are difficult for us to comprehend.

My Brother-From-Another-Planet is an old friend (and most BFAPs are, because paths so often diverge over the years, and as time goes on we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded folks) whom I first met when he was 19 and I was 31.  He was a little different, even then, but we shared a love for the Episcopal Church and a deep faith, and he was one of the first people I was ever able to safely get angry with. (As an only child, I learned early on that expressing anger ALWAYS meant getting punished, so I learned to keep quiet. Not a particularly useful skill in life).

So I was very fond of him, charmed by his love of all things church, and a little bemused when he decided the Episcopal Church wasn't sacred enough and became a Catholic.  It made sense, actually -- he was Italian after all, and loved the rituals, the vestments, the rules, the hierarchy; it all felt right to him.

Fast forward 30 years, over which we had pretty much lost contact, and then we rediscovered one another on facebook.  He had finally married, though too late to have kids, a lovely woman whom he adored, and seemed happy and fulfilled; I was delighted to meet up with him.  And then I realized he'd become a staunch conservative, and for some reason, tangled up with Obamacare, abortion, and the Catholic Church, he found President Obama to be an abhorrent individual.

In the beginning I made the mistake of getting into an argument with him.  Pages and pages of facebook monolog later we agreed to disagree.  I mostly kept my mouth shut after that, but there was one time he posted an inflammatory link condemning Obama for arriving 10 minutes late to a memorial service somewhere in Europe.  I tried a gentle chiding, just posted a comment that had his name with a period after it, sort of a honey-listen-to-yourself-you're-being-irrational kind of parental thing (I am still 12 years older than he is, after all).

But he reacted with a huge defensiveness so I engaged for a wee bit and then just left the argument. So now I'm in this space where I love the guy like a son -- still -- but I am deeply saddened by how gullible he is to those who get him riled up over stupid stuff.  And then, last night, he posted another one of those violently anti-Obama diatribes, only this one came with a horrible photograph of a burned baby; something about all these babies being burned and Obama doing nothing.

I confess I couldn't read the article: I am too confident of Obama's love for humanity to believe it's not a gross over-simplification of some decision he made that's been taken out of context. (How gullible am I, you might ask.) But it took me most of the night to get that image out of my head.  And I feel so helpless.

Part of me wants to research the problem, find out the truth of the matter, and convince him he's wrong.

Part of me wants to lambaste him for fouling the internet by forwarding on this crap.

Part of me wants to unfriend him, not because I don't love him anymore, but because this stuff is just too hard to see.

Part of me wonders what is the best course of action here -- kind of a what-would-Jesus-do thing. Because face it -- unless I do the research I can't really KNOW that what he posted is a horrible lie, which means anything I say is just me trying to get him to see that I'm right and he's wrong.

And part of me, faced with this awful photograph, which I'm still trying to erase from my brain, is trying to be grateful.  Because whether the story of Obama's failure is true or not, the fact is there are, somewhere, children being horribly burned, and I need both to know that and pray for the horrible state of the world, and I need to know that someone somewhere is deliberately poisoning the minds of some subset of the American people using classical advertising techniques; I need to pray for that, too.

It's important to have friends who see the world differently; we need all of us to give ourselves a complete picture of the world and what it's capable of.  But it sure isn't easy to be reminded of how helpless we really are.  I am so grateful for my faith: at times like this, prayer is all I have.

1 comment:

Jan Brown said...

Thanks for sharing this, Diane. Many of us have experienced something similar so it's good to have the benefit of your wisdom and insight. Best wishes from Canada.