Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Compassion for bears

I remember hearing this story once, about a man who had gone to this party, and was having a good time, it was a nice get together, and in stumbled this really obnoxious drunk guy.  He was so obnoxious that the speaker in the story said he felt like decking him. And as he was thinking about it, he was humbled by an older gentleman who approached the slovering drunk guy gently, and began to talk to him. And as he talked to him, he was able to say, "ah, you've lost your wife, that must be hard," and before long the obnoxious guy was in tears.

I had what felt like a similar reprimand a number of years ago.  I was seeing a counselor at the time.  I'd never really been into that sort of thing much to be honest, but I went to someone for a while at a friend's suggestion. Around that time, I had come across a term, "rage-aholic," and I thought it was great, having this diagnosis of sorts. I say this because someone was finally putting a name to something I had experienced, having known stormy personalities who would well fit the description. Maybe I was looking for a bit of affirmation, in mentioning this term to my then counselor, having lived with people like that for a long long time, but she just smiled and said "Margaret, that's a pop psychology term."  Oh, I thought, deflated. And then she said, Margaret, anger is like the tip of the iceberg.  It's everything beneath the anger, that you have to try to understand. Like that's going to happen, I thought to myself. lol. So, it wasn't what I wanted to hear at the time, and I was disappointed, but I never forgot what she said, to look beneath the surface, and to try to understand where a person's anger is coming from.

Fast forward a few years, and to the issues that seem to be on my heart. I was online earlier today, and a famous entertainer was being rebuked for "homophobic" remarks that she had apparently said at a concert.  I hesitate to say the name, because I can't seem to find a recording of the statement, so I don't want to comment on it directly. Until I've heard something in context, I wouldn't want to do that. But it just made me wonder...what's going on there?

Let me explain what I mean.  See, when same sex marriage was being put through in Canada I was dead set against it.  I may be repeating myself here, for anyone who knows me, but as this is an ongoing issue, I'm trying to shed some light. At the time however, I personally could not have felt more strongly that same sex marriage was a really really bad idea. Why, you may ask.  Because I think that SSM  proponents fail to understand that for a lot of people, marriage is about as elemental of an institution as you can find. Mama bear, papa bear, baby bear. Does it get any more basic than that? So, if you were to go into a forest, and tell those bears, that you were going to change basic bear relationships, how do you think they would respond? To people who are younger, or more liberal, they may not understand that, but to a lot of people marriage is well -sacred. And for me, the thought of changing that, or that that was THREATENED somehow, made me feel like the whole forest that surrounded me was burning, and me with it.

So, here's my question, where is the compassion for the bears among us?  What I see, is whenever someone expresses concern or anxiety over these HUGE social changes: they are intimidated, they are ostracized, they are labelled and frankly they are harassed. Why not instead go to that person and say...this is a big change isn't it?  It seems like the whole world is falling down sometimes doesn't it?  Rather than assume that traditional marriage folks hate gay people (why does everyone assume that), why not try talking to them?  Is that such a crazy idea?  Try understanding where they are really coming from. It's not where you think, trust me on that. I know because that's how I felt, and it may surprise you to know that in my mind and heart of hearts, it had nothing to do with gay people. But that's how I felt, like the world was ending.  It didn't. Could there be some issues down the road? Maybe. I don't know, but I don't think it's unreasonable to ask the question. For me though, years later, and having worked through my own emotional turbulence, I'm still here, I'm happy to report. I've given a little, you might say a lot, changed my mind in some respects and held firm in others. But I'm trying to dialogue, most importantly. Unfortunately though, I'm not sure where anything I'm saying would fit into a very polarized mainstream.

but thanks for listening,

M.A. Harvey

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