Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thanks Be

This morning was gorgeous.  A perfect Saturday morning.  Before heading off to the gym, I stopped by a Panera to enjoy a tasty breakfast and soak up some sun while doing a little planning and note-taking.  It was a perfect start to a Saturday morning.  

But for the couple sitting at the table next to me... perfection was not in the cards.  I couldn't help but overhear their conversation - a very tense, emotional one.  Their relationship has clearly reached an impass and their discussion involved a few too many uses of the phrase "deal breaker" for there to be much confusion regarding the nature of the conversation.  
And yet... I couldn't help becoming completely engrossed in their words.  What I initially thought was more of a state of the union type discussion on whether their relationship was going to survive the day or not, I was horrified when it took a turn I didn't expect.  

The basis of her argument turned out to be a stern admonishment of his friends.  More specifically... the fact that his friendship base is diverse.  Religiously, racially, economically...  She actually said the words.  Clearly and loud enough for anyone on the patio to hear: 

"I just don't think those people deserve to be your friends.  My friends are just like me.  Your friends need to be just like you.   They're not Christian.  They're not white.  If you're willing to accept them, I just don't think I can get over that." 

I couldn't get those words out of my head.  I just couldn't believe it.  But for every moment of disbelief and frustration at the stupidity of it, I found myself walking away from that moment feeling nothing but thanks. 

I am so thankful that I was raised in a family who believed in treating others with respect and dignity.  I'm thankful that I grew up in a Christian church that celebrated diversity instead of shunning it.  I am thankful that I have been supported and loved by friends of so many different ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic statuses, nationalities, sexual orientations, religions, interests, and personalities.  I am unbelievably thankful that I've worked for these past five years in a school where I am the minority in every possible way.  

I can't pretend to understand or appreciate her sentiments.  But it has colored my day differently than I could have imagined.  And for that, too -  despite my gut level horror -  I am thankful.  

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