Survivors of a tornado in a small southern town were interviewed on national news. One of those asked to relate his experience was a man who had been working in his church when the tornado hit. He said he had hidden under a table as the building came down around him. He then launched into an interminably long praise of "the Lord, who saved me from the demon Alcohol and Satan's power in 1970" and whose loving arms were the only things that saved him from the wrath of the tornado, and that all praise be to God and.... Why the interviewer didn't cut him off after a full minute of "Praise be to the Lord" is beyond me. And I couldn’t help but wonder why the man didn’t question why God had sent the tornado to destroy the church in the first place.
I am glad the man survived the tornado. I really am. And that he has strong religious convictions is admirable. But please, please, spare me the excruciating embarrassment of lengthy exposure to beliefs I do not share.
There is nothing wrong with having strong beliefs and wanting to share them with others—as long as the others are willing to listen. A respectful exchange of ideas is the basis of any discourse. But the words respectful and exchange are alien concepts to proselytizers, who are bound and determined to change your way of thinking on a subject whether you want them to or not. We've all been approached by religious zealots and people trying to sell us something we're not interested in buying. Proselytizers take full advantage of the fact that most of us put up with them because we are too polite to be rude. (My late, dear friend Uncle Bob used to delight in visits from Jehovah's Witnesses and squeaky-clean, white-shirt-and-tie Mormons, who he would invite in and try to convert to Druidism.)
TV literally teems with politicians, pitchmen, and self-appointed pundits who know far more about what is good for you than you do, and who spew their toxic waste over anyone within hearing or viewing distance. Entire networks are devoted to them. But at least on TV, relief is but a remote control button away. It's the face-to-face encounters with utterly insensitive boors who haven't the slightest interest in what you might believe or be willing to consider. That you have the right to your own opinion is totally irrelevant to them.
One of my a-few-doors-down-the-hall neighbors is what I like to refer to as an Obama-is-the-Antichrist Republican. Absolutely nothing our president...his president, too, by the way...does is not an obvious conspiracy to turn this nation over to the minions of Satan. I dread being cornered on an elevator with him. He knows I do not share his views and am in fact strongly opposed to most of them, and I have told him so many times. Yet he insists on going on and on and on and on spewing vitriolic hateful garbage, not one sentence of which has a shred of logic.
If you have been following these blogs, you know that I have one or two rather strong opinions on a number of topics I am truly convinced should be shared by everyone else in the world. But I feel free to rant and rave because I know that if I say anything with which you strongly disagree, you will probably just stop reading...which is exactly the way it should be.
I may not agree with your views on any given topic; I may in fact vehemently disagree with them. But I would never try to deny that you are entitled to have them, or have the gall to demand you change them to echo mine.
I learned long ago that there is no point in arguing with a brick wall. Brick walls have every right to be brick walls. However, the right to a strong belief should never be confused with the right to impose that belief on others.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).