Daily Prompt: Polite Company
“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?
Never in a million years would I talk to strangers about religion. And yet there’s something fascinating about people who proselytize. It must take abs of steel to drop into neighborhoods full of at best indifferent and at worst hostile unbelievers and attempt to share the word, corral and convert the unsaved to the flock. I remember doing an environmental stint going door-to-door and it was hard work invading someone’s sanctuary. Many were sympathetic, but even the sympathetic were put out to be disturbed and pulled away from whatever they were doing. I’ve been on the other side of the door, answering to the bell to one of these believers armed with their Awake pamphlet to spread the Word.
How do they do it? I wouldn’t trade places with any of them. But there they are, talking to strangers about religion, their beliefs knowing that 9.9999 times out of 10 they will be shut out. And yet they go to the next person. My strategy with these doorbell ringers is to listen politely, say thank you and then toss the pamphlet as soon as the door is shut. I’d like to be rude and slam the door. But they are so earnest that being rude seems not only inappropriate, but the kind of downright were-you-raised-in-a-barn bad manners.
Awhile ago, I was once pumping gas at 6:24 am, my last stop before work, and was approached by a woman dressed in a blue business suit with one of those pamphlets that seem to say the world is going to hell in a hand basket or ask you’ve accept Christ as your personal savior. That morning in question, I felt like going on the offensive. I listened to what the woman said while I pumped gas and then I told her that I didn’t believe any of it. I shared my beliefs with her and instead of the conversation turning rancorous, it was one of mutual sharing. I didn’t convert her to my point of view and she certainly didn’t convert me to hers, but there was a shared respect for each other’s belief. I don’t think you can get any better than that.
On a separate note, the other day I was watching Scandal. Oh I see your eyes rolling and if I were reading this, my eyes would roll too. But bear with me. The other day on Scandal the president & his chief of staff are pushing this supposedly seminal bill named after a fallen victim, yet most of the people pushing it hadn’t read it and the only person who actually decides to do so, the vp (if you watch Scandal, you’ll understand when I say that she was wearing the “white hat”), points out to everyone’s annoyance that it’s a bill in name only because it has been so watered down with compromises and quid pro quos that it’s simply cosmetic. I say this to say that part of my reason for staying away from politics is that it takes a lot of conscientious effort to really understand what’s going on for yourself rather than deferring to the pundits. And what really gets me is when you get a measure on the ballot that’s given to you the voter, who really has little qualifications to discern the backdoor implications, because the opposing sides couldn’t find a way to work it out. So lately I’ve found myself voting no not necessarily because these measures come with a price tag or they’re not good ideas, but because as a voter I object to being put in the position of refereeing.