Monday, December 12, 2011

The Unbearable Rightness of Being

I recently attended a sporting event. I was with a friend and we both noticed a guy sitting on a folding chair in a half lotus position. We looked at each other and laughed. She asked, "Why the half lotus?" It seemed so absurd, but maybe I was envious because I don't bend like that. I tried yoga a couple times and thought I was going to snap in half. Sit however you want, yoga boy.  

The half lotus triggered a train of thought that's been brewing for weeks. It began when we were invited to a dinner. Several guests were vegetarians and they kept talking about their vegetarianism during the meal. It made me want to keep asking loudly for more meat, which was a bit childish. 

It took a while to identify my extreme reaction. I finally realized that the vegetarians think they're better than meat eaters. They can't just sit quietly and eat the salad. They have to proselytize the whole time. They aren't satisfied with their own choice. They have to try to make others uncomfortable about theirs. The truth is, they're not better because they don't eat meat. Yes, there are health benefits to eating less meat. Yes, there are environmental advantages. That doesn't mean you are bad if you're a meat eater. A lifetime battling anemia has taught me that red meat can sometimes be my friend. And I choose not to think about how the animals were killed. 

It's like having an abortion or wearing furs. If you don't believe in abortions, then don't have one. Don't make it so nobody else can. You're not better than someone who has an abortion. You're really not. You just disagree. If you don't want to wear animal furs, don't wear them, but get your red paint away from mine. I don't actually have any furs, but the girls have inherited some from their grandmother. The animals are already dead. Who is it helping to NOT wear them?

I'm as guilty as anybody about being on the soap box and I've spent way too much time trying to prove my rightness and that's just plain wrong. Someone once said I'd rather be right than happy. That isn't exactly true, but it's been true too often. If I believe in something it's such a temptation to try to have others follow along. It reinforces my rightness. Being right is a small "win" and let's face it - life is one big competition. Isn't it? Sometimes I just believe in my ideas and I feel obligated to spread them. After all, my great-grandparents were educational missionaries. If my relatives weren't ministers, they were teachers. Pontificating is kind of in the blood.

By definition, life is humbling. I have changed my mind about some grand concepts. God. Husbands. We marry with such certainty. Divorce brings much with it - including a fear of our own choices. How is it possible that what once seemed perfect can become unbearable?  I've believed in God, been an Atheist and been deeply uncertain. They can't all be right. It makes you understand the problem of the Arabs and Israelis better, doesn't it? Some people are never in doubt, but frequently wrong. Try not to confuse me with the facts.     

Our county is full of Prius-driving, liberal Democrats. A lot of us don't choose formal religion. I know people here who won't readily admit they're Republican or religious or God forbid, religious Republicans. Now that's liberal thinking. Although this might not be a stellar time to be a Republican, (think Cain, Bachman, Gingrich), freedom of religious and political expression is one of our national values. It's why my ancestor Captain John Partridge immigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1650. Over three hundred years later we're still fighting to maintain our freedoms. We live in a society that allows our choices. So have your abortion, wear your furs and get a burger and eat it, too. Use your rights while you still have them. I'm going to be practicing my yoga poses.       

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