Love Thy Neighbor (if not their lunch)

You just got to love friends! They are the only people in the world who can give you crap about something one minute, only to turn around and bring you a steaming hot mug of your favorite tea the next. We disagree, we debate, yet in the end, we still love each other. Ah, yes, friends!

Like me, many of my friends are LGBT. I write grants for a LGBT organization (sometimes two, actually) and have come to know a lot of great folks through that work. When it comes to equality, acceptance, and living free from hate and harm, we all agree with each other 100%. Those things should be a given for all people. When it comes to other things though, like lunch, we tend to disagree a bit.

Angie and I ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I will be the first to stand at the front of the room and confess – when it comes to Chick-Fil-A, I am an addict. I loved them before we adopted a plant-based diet. Back then it was their Original Chicken Sandwich that I couldn’t get enough of. Now, it’s that darn Superfood Salad. Sure, I can make it at home, but occasionally we do enjoy eating a bite outside our house, and this is just one of those bites I crave. Along with the Ice-Dream. It’s the only ice cream cone in town that does not make my stomach hurt. Even the dairy-free options at Baskin-Robbins are out. And the Ice-Dream is cheap! I just got a cone for 59 cents!

Some of our friends always have a heart-attack when we post anything about Chick-Fil-A. They don’t like gay people. They are all conservative Christians. They donate money to anti-gay causes so buying from them means you support them too! I’ve heard it all and the message doesn’t fall on deaf ears. The problem I have is this – why must everything in life be a battle of us versus them?? If we ourselves want to be included, why do we feel the need to exclude other people? Doesn’t equality cover everyone?

This dilemma of mine goes beyond the doors of Chick-Fil-A though. I’ve come to the point where I’m seriously considering asking Mark Zuckerberg why, with all the other innovations Facebook has come up with, can we not have a better set of filters for our news feed? The stuff I want to see – Linda’s local adventures, Bev’s baseball games, Sue’s outings with her granddaughter, and the fun Melissa and her husband are having running a campground in the Ozarks – gets buried by stuff I could care less about.

Facebook is a platform for social interaction and I get it, some of my friends and family are super passionate about their politics. That’s all well and good, but maybe come at it from a different angle. If you want the rest of us to see your side, introduce us to your candidate. We can’t see the good he or she is doing in the world if all we see instead are the negative campaigns bashing the competition. If I had to go to the polls today, I wouldn’t. When Republicans are calling Democrats “liberal hate-mongers” and Democrats are calling Republicans “gun-toting Nationalists”, I don’t want to stand on either side. I care about this country, I really do, but I care about my own sanity even more.

I’m tired of the meanness. I just can’t do hate. Trust me, I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. And it especially doesn’t work in a minimalist paradigm. We’re supposed to rid our lives of anything that creates clutter – mental, physical, or otherwise – and hate is clutter. It takes up so much room in your heart and mind that there’s no space for anything else.

The world is not going to change on its own but screaming about the way things “should be” isn’t going to create that change either. For me, I simply want to model the behaviors I would like to see in others – love, kindness, and acceptance (or tolerance, if acceptance is too hard). More importantly though, I want to protect myself from negativity, since prolonged exposure can seriously undermine even the best attempts at being positive.

So, what does this mean exactly? It means that I’m going to love my friends, even though they will never know the absolute deliciousness of a waffle-cut fry. I’m going to love them whether they identify as a donkey, an elephant, a lone wolf, or a unicorn. I’m going to love them regardless of who they love, what church they go to, what they eat for breakfast, how many cats or dogs they have, what teams they support (Go Texans!) and I’m going to continue to hope for positive change in the world (and a better filter on Facebook).

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