October 1, 2012

On Judgment, Humanity, and Mutual Respect.

I recently read a book by a Christian-hating atheist. The gist was basically, he hates Christians because they hate him because he doesn't believe in God.. It's a big, ugly cycle of hatred.

Now I happen to be a very devout Christian. Because of my belief in Jesus Christ, I believe that I should be willing to act like he acted and, even if I fall short, try to treat people with compassion and respect.

But even if I had never heard of Jesus Christ, even if I didn't believe in Him,

shouldn't I be willing to treat people with dignity and respect in my interactions with them based on the fact that they are humans and I am human and we have inherent value because we are alive? 

As you may know, I recently gave up eating gluten. When I meet someone who is gluten free, our conversation usually goes something like this:
Me: You're gluten free? So am I. That's awesome.  
Other gluten free person: How long have you been gluten free? Are you Celiac?  
Me: For about 2 years, and I don't have Celiac so I can occasionally eat gluten if I want. Are you Celiac? 
Other gluten free person: Yeah, and if I eat gluten, I pretty much die. 
Random person in the room: This may be a really dumb question, but I don't know what gluten is? And what's Celiac? 
Gluten free person: Not a dumb question at all, I didn't even know what gluten was until I stopped eating it. It's in wheat, barley and rye. People with Celiac disease can't eat gluten...
Random person in the room: That must be really hard.
Me: It's not too bad once you get used to shopping. 
Other gluten free person: Yeah, that's true, at first it is really hard, but thank goodness for smart phones so you can look up which foods do and don't have gluten. 
Random person: That's really interesting.
Me & Other gluten free person: Yeah, it's been pretty eye opening. 

No one says to me, "I can't believe you just gave it up 2 years ago" or "I can't believe that you still eat gluten sometimes." And for the most part, the person happily eating gluten doesn't say, "I can't believe that you don't eat gluten." or "Are you judging me for eating gluten?" Nor do I think, "You're such a bad person for eating gluten." "I can't believe you don't even know what gluten is." 

Rather, it's all approached from a place of interest and a place of acceptance and respect for different perspectives. 

Now I realize that this is a little more simple than some situations that we encounter. Nothing moral or ethical is at stake, but still, why can't the rest of life be more like that? 

Maybe you and I disagree about our viewpoints. Maybe you think that my religion is full of crazy people. Maybe you think that God is awful. Maybe you disagree with some of my choices or viewpoints. Maybe I disagree with some of yours. Maybe you've encountered people of my faith who have been hateful. Maybe even I've been hateful in the past. Maybe I've run into hatred from those on your side of the fence. Maybe even from you. 

Maybe maybe maybe, just maybe, that's okay. 
I'm sorry.
I forgive you.
Will you forgive me?
Let's approach each other from a viewpoint of mutual respect and go from there. 
Doesn't that seem like a better way to approach this whole mortality thing? 

I think it's worth a shot. 

No comments:

Post a Comment