This is long for a post. It doesn’t start out so thankful, but it gets there. As I was telling friends, the other day I spoke with a friend who’s a therapist. She told me she’s working overtime every day because she’s getting referrals from people, LGBT, immigrants, etc., who are losing sleep, scared, worried, to the point where it’s harming their health.
As a relative used to say, “This is some shit.” Mark and I talked about what she said, and wondered whatever happened to minding one’s own business? I mean, a lot of things make me uncomfortable. People in Spandex out in public. Dudes who wear their underwear high and their pants low and so baggy they look like toddlers toting full diapers. Daddy Long Legs spiders. I have a list.
So long as whatever it is involves consenting adults and nobody’s underaged, under the influence or under coercion, if I don’t have to watch or help, it’s not my business. If it’s legal but it makes me uncomfortable, I get to feel how I feel and avoid it if I can, but when I can’t, the rules of courtesy apply. I don’t get to make that person feel ridiculed, or worse yet, threatened because I’m uncomfortable. My discomfort is not the litmus test by which other human beings must live.
I’ll be straight up here… I don’t get the transgendered thing. I don’t disapprove or approve… I just don’t get it. But I don’t have to. That person is still a person and he/she has a legal right to be who he/she is, and let me say it one more time… *it’s none of my business and I would treat that person with respect.* Because that person is a person, and so am I. My courtesy toward another human being is not dependent on my approval of how he’s living his life. You don’t have to pass a test for me to treat you decently.
You can be okay with me even if I don’t understand how you live your life. I don’t have to. Not my job. It’s not required and I don’t have time to freeze my life until I can make sense of all the things human beings do/are. So if it’s not for me, I keep my nose out of it, wish whoever it is well, and honor that person’s basic humanity.
Anyone who thinks that giving someone else respect and courtesy depends on approving of how that person lives his or her life doesn’t understand respect, or courtesy, or that how you treat people says a hell of a lot more about you than about them.
So what is it I’m thankful for? I’m thankful for people like my friend, who does a difficult job that only gets more difficult during stressful times. She does it with humor, intelligence and compassion.
I’m thankful that mom introduced the idea that I have a variety of options available when dealing with other people, and one of them is to keep my nose out of their business. As mom used to say, “Several billion people would have trouble walking through life hand in hand, so it’s okay that not everyone cottons to everyone else.” But she also told me that just because someone wasn’t for me didn’t mean he had no value at all.
I’m thankful for a minister who, when I was young and impressionable, told us that God loves everyone, even the people we disagree with or dislike. He told us that to deny another person’s dignity was to reduce our own. You don’t have to share my faith to share that idea.
I’m thankful that my life includes people who are intelligent, engaged in the world, passionate, and yet respectful even to people they disagree with.
And I’m thankful for you. You’ve read this far. You’re willing to at least consider what I have to say. You are interested in the world around you and art and other people or you wouldn’t even be here. We may disagree with each other about some things, even some important things, and yet find common ground.
As my friend Mary says, “You are awesome! Own it! Own it!” And you are.
And so are other people, even people who do things that neither you nor I understand. Most people are decent. Confusing, confounding, but decent. And nobody has a monopoly on human decency, intelligence, kindness or worthiness. There’s enough for all of us.
That’s a lot to be thankful for.