I just came from a wonderful "coffee" date with my neighbor. With how often we move, sometimes finding people that you mesh with on a deeply personal level is difficult. For me, it's been around 10 years since this has happened. Since back in my life in Germany, when I used to sit and have the same sort of coffees with my best friend, a feisty New Yorker with roots in the Caribbean. Or, similarly, share chota & salami breakfast with another best friend, an amazing woman from Guyana (Oh man, her Mom made the best curry!).
Today, my "coffee" date (you'll find out why I use quotations in a sec, hang in there) was with a woman who identifies strongly with her Mormon faith. So strongly, that she eschews coffee when she comes to my house. We've done this "coffee" date thing before, where she drinks hot chocolate, and I drink coffee - and we just talk for hours and have the best conversations. Today, we discussed war, culture and the need for diversity. We discussed how, despite her family having similar values to many in Utah, she never wants to live there. She feels it's more important to raise her children in a diverse environment: to teach them the beauty of not only different cultures, but the beauty of different belief systems and idealogies. That even though we may not believe the same things - in regards to religion, faith, whatever - we are all the same, we all come from the same place, and we are all beautiful creatures. We all deserve love, compassion, respect and brotherhood.
I left her house today so inspired. It was one of the best conversations I've had in a very long time. Particularly in terms of faith. Ironically, I came home and checked my Facebook feed to find a post from another friend who identifies as open minded and tolerant.....in the throes of Catholic bashing.
Being truly open minded isn't just appreciating those you identify with - whether that be spiritually, religiously, culturally, or politically. Being truly open minded is realizing that there is a place at the table for all of us, even if - especially if - we disagree with their belief system. Each and everyone of us has value and something unique and special to offer this world. See beyond the label: See the good in the individual. Life is so much happier, and so enriched when we do.
Preach love, not hate, no matter which label you identify with.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.Martin Luther King, Jr.