I don’t like violence. I have heard great things about Inglorious Bastards and other Quentin Tarantino movies, but I can’t bring myself to sit through the gore. Same with Game of Thrones. I would love to be able to share that particular obsession with my fiance, but I’m way too squirmy for the graphic deaths I’m always hearing about. I still don’t know exactly what happened at the Red Wedding, but judging by people’s reactions to it, I think that’s for the best. I wouldn’t sleep for weeks.
I just don’t process it well. I’m a psuedo-pacifist. I say psuedo because my pacifism has never been tested and therefore can’t really be trusted. As a concept, I don’t support violence even for a good cause, and I think war is generally a pretty bad idea that rarely yields the results we’re hoping for. I worry about the soldiers on all sides who are sent to fight in the name of leaders with very little skin in the game, and I worry about the civilians who live in and around the fighting. There’s a reason these places are described as “war-torn” and not “war-mended.” All that said, mine is an entirely hypothetical position, since I’ve never had to fight off an attacker or make a decision about going to war. And I hold it loosely knowing that millions of people (including members of my own family and, I would guess, of most American families) have volunteered or been drafted into the armed forces, and I benefit from their service. I love them and respect them and, to be honest, I don’t know what to do with them.
It’s very easy to rage against a concept until it has a face, especially a face you love. Then the labels become a little trickier. I’m against war on principle, but my cousin the badass Army man went out of his way to make my birthday special, complete with a homemade chocolate cake and a horseback ride with his eleven-year-old. I firmly believe in marriage equality (and all equality for that matter), but many of my friends and family believe just as firmly that to support it is actually harmful to LGBT folks because they believe the Bible teaches us that identifying as anything other than straight is a choice and a sin. I’m pursuing a call to ministry, but my college pastor wouldn’t even listen to a recording of my first sermon because he doesn’t believe God calls women to preach.
I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. These are people and relationships I have treasured. They are so much more than the groups or issues we disagree on. No matter where we fall when it comes to those topics you’re not supposed to discuss at dinner parties, these are my people. They’re who I’ve been given, and I’m what they’ve got to work with. I don’t want them throwing me out either.
Made for us? Thank God, no. They are themselves, odder than you could have believed and worth far more than we guessed.
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
It’s good for me to be around people I admire who live and believe differently than I do. It’s good to have the reminder that my buzzwords apply to people, and using them carelessly to dismiss something I disagree with is hurtful and unfair. I need to stand in an office filled with American flags, souvenirs from war zones, the family Bible, and a picture of our great-grandfather to remember to speak gently to and about those who have fought roughly for our country. I need to remember having coffee with a pastor who got as close as he felt the Bible and the church elders would allow him to affirming my call into ministry because he valued my gifts even if he didn’t fully agree with how I would go on to use them. I need to be humbled by the love of people who can see past my nose ring and left-leaning Facebook posts to the person I truly am. I am theirs. Thanks for having me.