Thursday, August 19, 2004

There are people in the world with whom I disagree about basic matters. Sometimes those people and I run into each other online or in person. I'm not talking about Republican vs Democrat or Breastfeeding vs Formula or even Legal Abortion vs No Legal Abortion though that does fit into the dignity of all human beings for me. The differences I have in mind are truely fundamental to me: the dignity of all human beings, the global picture as important in making local choices, my relatively insignificant (though dear to me) position in the world. It's like I hit a brick wall when I start talking to one of these persons, I'm shocked at the unwavering way they hold their beliefs. I admit I'm unwavering on these issues but I feel that I've come to them from a studied path and I do reevaluate the data I built them on to make sure I'm still good with the process. In good faith I assume that other people have also studied their beliefs and the basis of them. Sometimes as we chat and then get deeper I find that they do not want to listen to other views, hear other facts, or examine what these things might mean to their beliefs and stands. Sometimes one or another person will say that they don't care about the science or facts, they want to believe this and so they do.

Some years ago I entered a community which included a woman who had nothing in common with me other than that we are American women with children and internet access. In my opinion this woman does not want to hear or examine anything that challenges her position. I'm sure she has similar feelings about me and my ideology. That's fine for her and I just left her alone as much as possible (meaning as long as she didn't enter a conversation with me or post anything I just couldn't stand not to refute). At one point post Sept. 11 2001, she was part of a contingent of people who verbally espoused tying Osama bin Laden to a car and dragging him through the streets while dogs ate him. I understand the anger and fear, hell I live in DC and was terrified. I agree in no way with the terrorists or their actions but dragging behind a car is not treatment for a human. This man, horrible and twisted though he is and as much as he has drawn people into violence in the name of God, is a father, a son, a husband. Someone loves him. He deserves judgment for his actions and instigations but he has not given up his humanity. It is not possible to give up humanity, it remains when brain waves are flat and after the heart has stopped. Our perceived inhumanity towards men is part of our humanity isn't it? We are shocked by acts of genocide, rape, abuse but they are a part of our present and history so they must be part of greater humanity. That doesn't mean we must accept or cultivate horrible actions rather we should try to halt them but pretending they are not part of us removes from us the ability to nip them in the bud.

This particular woman is a breast cancer survivor. She has several children including 5 year old twins. She makes choices I wouldn't make and, of course, makes some I've never had to make not having been in her situations. I've left the community although I still hear from some of the people there. Recently, thinking she had gallstones, she had a checkup where her doctors found breast cancer metastasized in her liver. This is apparently not curable but is treatable in the long term. I'm filled with sorrow for her and her family. She is a wife, mother, lover, people love her, she is full of passion and fury, her life is important, she does not deserve this. Nobody does. The ravages of cancer, the stress even after you think you are cures, the pain and struggle, the cost to family, self, and budget are as awful as being dragged through the streets behind a car.

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