I don’t usually allow myself to have bad days, but Tuesday leaked into Wednesday and I was in danger of having two bad ones. There was an incident with a car dealer, they don’t bring out the best in me, problems at work and with someone who was supposed to be doing something here at the house and I found myself being positively grumpy. (Negatively grumpy?) I was frustrated because other people had dared to intrude into my isolated little world and they weren’t playing according to the plans I’d laid out. I finally figured out that I was the constant in all of this and, while I couldn’t control everyone else, I could control my own responses.
That’s what I get for thinking.
On Monday, I started a new semester at my on line college and we always have to introduce ourselves and, in one course, a religion course, answer a rather innocous question on our world view. The question was designed to be broad enough that we would more or less introduce ourselves while getting used to writing. I gave my standard answer about religion, I bring a Buddhist like practice to my Christianity. I believe in Grace, meditation and understanding. I said I believed no one intentionally ever makes a bad decision and that I also believe in gay marriage.
WELL… Some stranger, a real Bible Thumper, went OFF on me in an 8 paragraph rant and wouldn’t let up. He decided he not only spoke for himself, but the college administration, the Bible and God himself. His assault went like this “I am confused by your answer.” (You don’t believe what I do.) “Here’s what I think” (You are a heathen.) “Perhaps you didn’t mean it this way, I’d like to give you a chance to defend yourself.” (You are an idiot.) It is not, just for the record, a way to make friends by suggesting to writer guy that he didn’t write something the way he meant it.
I was a religious studies major 35 years ago and I’ve spent my life studying world religions and philosophy while forming my beliefs, I do not come by them lightly. Of course I said it the way I meant it! He was, in my charitable understanding of Christianity, an insufferable asshole. Jesus himself probably would have said, “Yo dude, speak for yourself!” St. Francis of Assisi would have said, “Hey shudda you face! ” Pat Robertson, however, would have said, “This is my son, of whom I am proud.”
I told him that I wasn’t interested in discussing my beliefs with him and that perhaps he and I shouldn’t do this. This was not the forum or the intent of the class. He couldn’t let go, attacking my motivation for being in school, my sensitivity and my lack of willingness to have an “intelligent discussion.” The more I tried to withdraw and be understanding, the more my Christian classmate attacked. Ego and fundamentalism are a bad mix, just ask the guys who blow up buildings.
I am rarely offended. I get most jokes, even the horrible ones and appreciate them for the attempt at humor, even if I wouldn’t repeat them. This guy hit a vulnerable spot. When someone, on an unsolicited basis, attacks your most closely held beliefs and motivations, it hurts. And, in the school environment, I couldn’t even tell him what I would if he and I were face to face, mano a mano. (“Hey, you seem to have quite an issue with gay marriage, could it be that you really want a big ____ in your ____ ____etc…)
Now Rick’s resolve to not be grumpy was at new levels and the next morning I posted this joke from Ron White, based on my experiences with my closeted classmate:
“This guy forced information I didn’t want into my ears. He ear raped me.”
Now, it was my turn to offend, someone who I thought would give me a little grace posted, “That is NOT funny, the word rape is never funny,” and blocked me. Well, in this case it WAS funny and secondly… whatever. I surrender. I collected my car from the dealer, got my office problems solved and tried not to get in any more trouble.
So, my lesson? Stay home, read and don’t go out with the humans. Nothing good can come of it.