A friend posted this on FB today and it prompted an interesting inner conversation which it looks like I will inflict on you. Her point was, “Don’t tell me what to do. Thank you.”
I appreciate the sentiment, really. Unsolicited advice comes easily in this digital age. It’s as if we have nosy aunties and uncles hiding around every bush, waiting for the opportunity to correct or advise us.
Like the email I opened last week from someone with too much time on their hands who berated me and then wrote a prayer which he prefaced with: pray this. It was an order. He really wanted me to be forgiven for allowing gays and lesbians to worship and serve in our church.
As the quote ends, “Don’t like your rights taken away? Don’t take a way someone else’s.” Individual rights are important. They are what fuels forward movements and have spurred significant changes in unjust laws around the world. It reminds us that we are all different – and that each human life matters. This is something I hold central to my faith and philosophy of living in the world. But I really could have gone the rest of my life without another berating from someone who doesn’t know me (or likely any other-than-heterosexual people.) But, if he wants to do that, he has the right to speak his mind.
But rights. Hmmm. It’s sort of tricky. Just because you have a “right” to hate people, or shoot a semi-automatic rifle or blow smoke rings in someone’s face or watch “Debbie does Dallas” doesn’t mean it is any good at all for the community, your family, your children, your neighbor’s children, or even YOU.
I hate to get all socialist on you, but the way societies and cultures survive and thrive is when they serve the common good. Some things need a little direction now and again in order to accomplish that. Like cigarettes (which create health problems for many who never smoked a day in their lives.) Or drugs (which contribute to violent crimes). Why? Because even though we have the right to drink a couple of bottles of 3 Buck Chuck doesn’t mean it’s a swell idea. Sometimes our judgments are short-sighted.
One small digression. We used to chose vocations to serve the common good. We did this for the survival of our families and society. I worry that in the “my rights” haven that the U.S. is, we are sending our young people out to follow their personal bliss – and that is all. Our calling in the world could be about our strengths and talents meeting the needs of the world. For it’s benefit and ours.
If we want to be peaceful, tolerant people, it requires us to communicate with people with whom we disagree – and even perhaps accept advice from them. (HORROR!) Even if we think are just plain Coo Coo for Coco-Nuts.