Guest Post by Sarah Stewart Holland
At least once a week, I get the same message on Facebook. It is some variation on “I don’t know how you do it!” Usually, these messages come from my more progressive friends who express astonishment at my ability to share my thoughts on very controversial topics without losing my cool.
My response is almost always the same. I share my honest belief that if we cannot even TALK about important subjects such as religion and politics with respect then that there is no hope for taking any sort of meaningful action towards change.
I believe that. I do.
However, the reason I can talk about religion and politics and stay calm is a little more complicated than that. The reason I can – as a liberal and progressive person of faith – engage with someone who believes abortion is murder, homosexuality a sin, and Democrats are idiots is because I once believed the same thing.
I was raised an Evangelical Christian who would quote scripture to prove sex before marriage left you dirty and damaged, that loving a member of the same sex was akin to alcoholism, and that Bill Clinton should resign.
When people asked me what happened? I usually respond simply that I went to college. I learned that reality is so much more complicated then I was led to believe as a teenager and that a simplistic view of the scripture doesn’t change that.
However, I never forgot what it was like to feel the way I did. And while my beliefs have changed, my fundamental humanity has not. I was no lesser of a person then than I am today.
Many people I love – many people in my own family – still believe those things and they are no less deserving of my love and respect because we feel different about religion or politics.
I was more than my beliefs then and they are more than their beliefs now.
So is every other person I disagree with on Facebook.
Sarah Stewart Holland is a wife, mother, writer, and eighth generation Kentuckian. She blogs about parenting, politics, and her small town life in Paducah, KY, at bluegrassredhead.com.