The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What an interesting stream of thought...

Taran's Blog was interesting this morning. He speaks of opinions...and what an interesting stream of thought he has lain out for us today!

For years and years it has been said that a person of good manners will not speak of such things as religion, politics or the cost of things. I was raised in that generation and I was taught that, but as I have aged (think of me as a good cheese, or a good wine!) I have found that such self-limited conversation quickly becomes boring - or stupid. If it is good manners to not include such topics (I believe the reason given was to avoid conflict) so as to not offend or alienate, then what is the purpose of the conversation? Nearly all of getting to know a person via conversation is finding out the person's opinions, his beliefs, his feelings. Deliberatly avoiding politics - when so much is political these days - or religion - when so much of a person is his ethical and/or spiritual beliefs - or the cost of things - when that is a major concern of most of us, and is tied to the other two subjects - is to form a superficial relationship or to fail to really get to know another person.
It would be rather like standing blindfolded before a wall, hearing only the reverberation of one's own voice.

See, we don't have to agree - or avoid a topic - to be friends. What we need to be friends is to have an understanding, a genuine liking for the other person, and respect. By virtue of life itself, another is worthy of our respect until the very day that that person proves unworthy of it. We like another person for his traits and qualities: his sense of humor or sense of integrity, shared interests, or just some - intangible something that we find likeable. Growing to know someone without knowing his insides, how he feels about such important things as religion, politics and even the cost of things is knowing a shell, not a real person.

In this day when everyone is being told to be his/her "authentic self" how can we not want to know the authentic selves of those we encounter? Including the parts we may not agree with when getting to know someone is honest. It is the caring thing to do. You don't have to agree. If you are a tolerant person (and we should all be - or be becoming - tolerant persons, given the day and age we live in, the smallness of our planet due to internet and global interrealationsips) you can find friends - people with whom we share a mutual liking - in the most diverse places.

And if an overture to a person meets with indifference or ignoring (odd how the word "ignorance" seemed the grammatically correct extension of the word "ignore" in this sentence!) then we have faced one of the major truths to our existence: not everyone is going to like us - any more than we are going to like every individual we encounter.

But better we know this.

Knowing this keeps us from looking stupid.


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