Home > Family, Food, Love > Weekend Coffee Share: But what do you LOVE?

Weekend Coffee Share: But what do you LOVE?

If we were having coffee today, I’d set my cup on the table and ask if you minded a brief rant.

Assuming you said you didn’t mind, I’d tell you about something that’s been scrabbling around the back of my mind for the last week.

Last weekend, my family and I went to a different farmers market than usual. Getting there took twice as long as getting to our usual market, following which we immediately discovered this one was bigger and more crowded by far. “I’m never coming here again!” I told my husband, Anthony, before we’d even reached the clean meat vendor that’s central to our weekly trips.

I laughed when we reached our destination. Vegans had set up shop directly across from our beloved ranchers. These vegans were trying to hand brochures to my young sons, which I wordlessly waved off with a polite, “No, thank you.”

At some point, though, I heard the words they were actually saying. I saw the signs they’d posted, and I bristled. The gist of the signs was: GO VEGAN OR DIE … of heart disease, of cancer, of stroke.

“Excuse me,” I said tersely to the vegan proselytizer nearest me. “You know what? I was vegan for a while. I felt pretty darn good, though not as good as I did when I switched to eating Paleo. And people like you pissed me off even when I was vegan. There’s enough fearmongering in the world, you know? I don’t need more of it when I go to my one assuredly quiet, happy place each week. I don’t need assholes trying to terrify me into fulfilling their agenda. You know what compels me to consider someone else’s point? When they tell me what they love instead of trying to control me through fear.”

Confused, she held out a brochure again. “Want one?”

“No. I want you to go away,” I muttered darkly, regretting my words almost immediately.

Like her, I knew I was not effecting positive change by saying “your way of being is hateful” in different words.

I couldn’t escape quickly enough after I’d paid for my meat. “I’m never coming to this market again!” I exclaimed to Anthony after I’d paid for everything.

Poor Anthony got an earful as we walked back to our car. “You know what changes things? Loving people. Loving and respecting that they make their choices out of complex interwoven webs of necessity and balance we can’t possibly see from the outside. Not saying, ‘You must do what I want or you’re the devil!’ If you tell people with your words and actions that they’re shit, or useless, or the root of all that’s evil in the world, they won’t see love. They won’t see something they want to be a part of. They’ll see hate and anger and hostility and confuse fringe elements for the entirety. It’s like with ISIS. That’s not all Muslims, but since they’re the most visible, that’s what many people think of when they think of Islam now. They confuse this hateful fringe for the whole, through no fault of the loving majority.”

“Honey,” Anthony told me with a squeeze of my shoulder, “you don’t like proselytizing. Any of it. I know this about you.”

The way he handled that made me laugh. He remembered everything I’d told him about my mom’s early escape from Mormonism, and how a handful of men continued to proselytize to her on her front porch for years after she asked them to stop. Their implicit desire to save her as they understood salvation was more important than her explicit request they stop.

“Thank you,” I told him as tension eased from me. “You’re right. I don’t like it from anywhere. I don’t want to know what people hate. I want to know what they love. I want to see them showing what they love, not trying to belittle and control!”

“I know, hon. I know,” he assured me.

Why’s this been on my mind for a week? Usually I let go of things quickly.

But there was a lesson in it, I felt. Something I was supposed to take away from the exchange, even apart from the obvious “don’t feed the trolls.”

I think it does come back to love. I think we are meant to love each other. I think we are meant to understand that when other people make choices different than ours, they do so in the scope of lives and circumstances we can’t begin to fathom. I think we are meant to understand that most lasting change is borne of love and safety, and to–from that understanding–reach out our arms to say, “You are making different choices than I do, but I love you all the same, as you love me despite the different-from-yours choices I have made.”

Sometimes in blogging I’ve gotten on a high horse. I’ve done what felt like proselytizing after all was said and done, and felt a deep, uncomfortable griminess following it.

And why? Because I love people. I believe people–even those with whom I disagree–are more complex than any single choice they make. Every time I’ve said “THIS IS THE WAY IT IS AND YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT!” I’ve also said, in the spaces between my words, “I am better than you, and that is why I am able to tell you you are wrong.”

For me, the exchange at the vegan booth wasn’t about veganism. I think veganism can be a beautiful thing, and have many friends who show the beauty of veganism not through their loud rage against non-vegans but for their loud love, tenderness, and concern for the well being of animals. There’s a possibility I will be vegan again someday, for reasons outside the scope of our conversation now. That day is not now, and anyone who decides I’m a villain for that is not worth one additional breath from me. Their desire not to hear is beyond the reach of even my most eloquent words.

It’s about fearmongering. Why, why, why do we boil others down to any one thing they do or don’t do? Why do we hate them for their faiths, their foods, the people they vote for? Why do we spew so much hatred instead of listening and offering our quiet, considered compassion in return?

We people, I’d conclude, are better at shouting for the sake of shouting than actually effecting change.

I’d quietly push my coffee cup in circles around the table before snapping out of my reverie, looking up, and saying thank you for listening. I’d ask you, “What do you love enough that you’d want other people to love it just like you?”

And I’d listen. So help me, I’d listen, because I love

to understand not what you hate

but what love inspires you.

What do I love? Littler J refusing his backpack, but excitedly climbing in our grocery bag.

What do I love? To start, Littler J stomping his feet and refusing his backpack, but excitedly climbing into our grocery bag. Just because.

weekendcoffeeshare

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  1. February 7, 2016 at 11:25 am

    It is always better to hear what people love over what they hate. Spreading hate, after all, doesn’t solve anything. Also, love the pic!

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      It really doesn’t! Even typing something like this was iffy for me, since it involved so much grumpiness … but, in the end, even that was inspired by love and a desire to be treated as more than one single, small aspect of who I am!

      I’d much rather look upon that picture and giggle, remembering how dramatically Littler J stomped his feet and howled in protest of the backpack! I didn’t think for a second he’d climb into the grocery bag, but he did, and then howled when we took him out moments after this photo was snapped. :p

      • February 9, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        I’m happy you wrote it. I enjoyed it!

  2. February 7, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I can’t stand proselytizing of any sort either.

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Every time someone proselytizes, all I hear is force disguised–most poorly–as something kinder before tuning the person out and thinking about more useful things.

      I didn’t like it at seven, and I like it even less at 37.

  3. February 7, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Wow, I will sit and have coffee with you anytime. Spreading love and acceptance of all people and their choices is how I want to live each day. I totally agree with you and your opinion. Thanks so much for “real” thoughts on a topic that really matters.

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      I didn’t mean to use my coffee share time this way, but … it’s what came out. I think it’s probably better it did, and better than the halfhearted anything-else I would’ve written … so thank you, for your kind words of encouragement. I appreciate them!

      • February 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm

        I kind of thought that it just was something you needed to get off your chest. But those are the best post for me to read. It makes me think about a subject that is very important when you’re trying to lead a life full of meaning. I really enjoyed this post. I reblogged it!! Thanks for sharing your feelings. Happy blogging spread the love.

        • February 7, 2016 at 12:29 pm

          Thank you so much! I used to think my “best” blogs were those most perfectly written, but now find I most enjoy writing and reading what comes straight from the heart, whether or not anyone would publish it in a book of essays! I love looking back and seeing how much I’ve learned from blogging, and stepping away from the idea that beauty is in perfection straight out of the gate. Naaaw, it’s in the trying and even getting it wrong … all with arms and hearts wide open! Thank you again, and happy Sunday! ♥ (I’ve followed your blog for later reading and conversation.)

          • February 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm

            You are most welcome! I am new to blogging and only have been doing it since December. I now have 150 followers. It’s amazing people want to read what I have to say. I am doing a spin-off kind of on a post that I read today about spreading the love. You will be featured in that post later on today. I regularly have coffee with you on Sundays. I enjoyed it very much. You’re right I get the most likes on the post that just come straight from my heart. Not that I write bad I don’t think anyway. It’s just people are looking for inspiration and motivation in their life to make it more meaningful for them. Your blog certainly helps me to do that. Happy blogging happy Sunday. Always a fan…. Annette

  4. February 7, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I live in NH and am in the middle of presidential politics country. Talk about fear mongering! I won’t mention names, but there are some candidates whose whole platforms are based on hatred and fear. Wouldn’t it be great to hear a politician talk about what they love?
    I love that picture of Littler J in the bag 🙂 I love hearing people talk about the good in their lives. I love learning new things and think everyone should try to break out and learn something new every day. I love today’s blue sky. I love reading blog posts like this one 🙂

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Oh, man! I can’t even imagine!

      There was a time a few years back where folks were waving hateful picket signs along my path back home. I wanted to stop the car and ask about those signs, and why the wavers were compelled to sacrifice family or friend time to condemn others, but I couldn’t imagine it going well … in part because I felt such a heated response that I doubted my ability to articulate myself kindly, and work any of the change I’d love to see!

      The thought of being hit over the head every moment of every day makes me feel squeamish. Nooooo! I hope it passes quickly for you … and that the more fearmongering of candidates (such as those that spring to my mind every time I hear the word “fearmongering”) are soon left by the wayside.

      Littler in the bag still makes me grin. He climbs into impossibly tiny spaces at home, seeming to disappear until we finally catch his curls peeking over some small container’s rim. :p It’ll be a little sad when he’s too big for such spaces in the near future, but even then, I’ll savor such reminders as this picture of him peeking up out of the bag. 🙂

      And speaking of blue skies? We also have one here, and I love it!

      Happy Sunday, Trent. 🙂

      • February 7, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        To say I will be happy on Wednesday after the political circus has left town is an understatement 😉
        I don’t understand why there seems to be so much hate and fear mongering these days. It is just odd to me.
        Anyway, I hope you have a great afternoon!

  5. February 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    What a wonderful world it would be….if we could turn our hateful language into something positive, that shows love. It is not that simple— slogans filled with hate seem to work. I do wonder, what would happen if the vegans had signs that read, “Eat vegan to show you love your body…. Eat vegan and you will love what you taste and how you feel….”

    I appreciate your rant- or, sharing. You so often help me confirm or redirect my tendencies….
    XO

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      The first images I saw were adorable animal pictures. From those, I knew there was some love, and I was warmed by it. If they’d kept to that, and to showing how much they love animals instead of how much they loathe those who don’t share their love of animals, it’d have been lovely. It would have helped–perhaps slowly–open eyes and hearts. But then … those other signs, with big, bold lettering, revealed something else. It muddied the sweetness of that love shown by the first signs I saw, and from messages like those you touch on. I am always inspired by love, even if the inspiration doesn’t lead to immediate changes. But you-are-atrocious-and-wrong? That message shuts me off to anything else a person has to say, because there’s already enough noise in the world without tuning in to that.

      Big, big hugs! I love seeing your name, and love more by each I’m-far-from-perfect post to see how good it is to just be okay being imperfect. I’m trying, and trying in such great company.

  6. February 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I was on Facebook a little bit ago and saw a page liked that said something along the lines of find out which of your “friends” like Donald Trump so you can unfriend them. I found this to be disgusting. I hate politics and discussing it. I don’t want to like or dislike someone based on their politics or if their views are way different.

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      I understand where you’re coming from, although I admit to being especially discomfited by Trump’s open hatred–of women, of immigrants, of, well, just about anyone who’s not a rich, white, American male! Even then, though, I wonder if other politicians might feel the same but try to hide it for the sake of gaining votes? In a way, Trump’s open hatred is useful in revealing what might otherwise be hidden and inspiring introspection that might otherwise not have been.

      In any case, it’s still a sad world where one cuts ties with someone for disagreement over a single political candidate. I wonder if someone cutting ties in such a case would do so with other wounds already seeping between them?

      I’d also say this makes me glad once again that my Facebooking is limited to two or so minutes weekly on my blog page. I do not miss having a personal account. 🙂

  7. February 7, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I do hate cruelty. In any of its manifestations. And will rant and rage about it whenever, and wherever I see it. Fearmongering is one (arrogant) example.
    On the love front?
    Nature. Beauty – natural or created. Laughter. Kindness. Learning. Rainbows. Serendipity. And there is soooooo much more to love. For which I am grateful.

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Hear, hear. Your comments are on the list of things I love! You always inspire and touch me.

      Today is a warm, bright day. We’ll be ending the day seeing friends. Littler is napping and Li’l is watching something I used to watch with my siblings. I feel so full of love and hope today … even more full of these things than sniffles and sickness, which are also rampant in my household today! (Aaah, life with toddlers!)

  8. February 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I am not a fan of proselytizing and fearmongering, either. I understand what those vegans may have been trying to get across (having seen all the research), but I don’t think that is the way to do it. (I’m not vegan but have danced in and out of it from time to time, and will likely go back to it soon.) I was reading something recently that asked the question, “Why would you *want* to change another person?” The point I took away from it was that the world is so much more interesting when we allow others to be who they are rather than try to get them to conform to our way of doing things. What a boring place it would be if we were all the same. 🙂

    Great rant, and I love the picture at the end. 😀

    • February 7, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      That’s exactly it! “Why would you *want* to change another person?” I don’t want a world of me! I want a world full of difference and wonder and open discussion and consideration, and I celebrate every little bit of that I get to touch/taste/witness!

      I’ve felt better and had better bloodwork since going Paleo (after a terrifying health issue), but–and this is a huge but–I am one person who can speak to one single individual’s experience. What’s revealed by one person’s bloodwork is but the tiniest fraction of one single person’s whole life, you know? There are many ways to find health, and a part of that is finding peace of mind, balance, heart, what have you.

      That balance will be different for each, and that’s a beautiful if occasionally frustrating thing. :p

  9. February 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Rant all you like, Deborah, I’m all in.

  10. February 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    You put my feelings into such amazing prose. Thank you.

  11. MRY
    February 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    This is so very good. Sometimes we get so caught up on everything happening around us, and wanting to prove that we are “right” we miss what we perhaps should not have. And also some times we don’t dig any deeper than face value, or hold on too tight and too long to things we don’t even believe anymore, but we haven’t checked in. We need to dig deeper at times, sometime we think it’s too much work, but it’s not. Whenever we can strip things down to where the love is, it’s never a waste of time.

  12. February 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    That photo is precious!

    I love watching my girls together. I love cooking with my friends. I love dancing to my daughter playing the toy piano and not caring if the neighbors see. I love quiet moments to savor a cup of tea. I love sunny days and rainy ones in front of the fire.

    Love is so much nicer than fear.

  13. February 7, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    This is where the saying, “mind your own business” comes in. The problem is that i cant put it politely. So then i give them a dirty look followed by a smilish.

  14. February 8, 2016 at 5:22 am

    I can identify with this —I am not a fan of anyone trying to push anything on me regardless of if it is religion or eating preferences or anything! Well said. What do I love? I love seeing people do small things to make a difference. I love kindness. I have a phrase “be the ripple” that I try to live by. Start with one very small act and see where it goes. Change can happen and if we all practiced a bit of kindness every now and then it would win.

  15. February 8, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Proselytising: bad; venting: good.

    It’s okay for you to say – or shout – what you feel in your blog, because we can just exit the page if we don’t want to hear it. If you came over to our blogs and posted it in the comments, that would be different.

    And that is the point, which you made so eloquently: feel what you feel, believe what you believe, even tell me, politely; but don’t stand on my porch and shout in my face.

    As a Christian (oops: the dreaded ‘R’ word), I have always tried to find a balance between sharing my faith and not forcing it down other people’s throats. It’s a fine line and I tend to err on the side of caution. Then, of course, I feel guilty for not loving people enough to share what I believe. But we absolutely must respect the feelings of others, otherwise, we’re just…proselytising 🙂

    I enjoyed your vent and that photo is adorable.

  16. February 8, 2016 at 8:03 am

    It can be really difficult to respond graciously to people we feel are making egregious over-steps–proselytizing, protesting, etc. But maybe it is important to work on responding to the person rather than the message. It’s something I struggle with a lot, because there are some things that just absolutely send me into a rage.

    • February 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      I have thought a lot about your comment, and how to reply to it in a way that clearly represents my position in a way that doesn’t sound like an attack on yours. Rather than let it keep circling my brain, I’ll write my general stance and trust you to know it as a general stance versus geared directly toward you, your kind heart, and/or your noble intentions.

      Here, the problem IMO is the people, not the position. The problem is in how they mock, belittle, deride, and attack anyone in earshot with different positions. It’s not their positions that cause them to do that but who they are and how they feel–superior to others–by virtue of a particular position. When people come to any conversation as saviors trying to enable the feeble other to also be superior, they are aggressing. They are, to put it bluntly, being assholes. I have a pretty close to 0 asshole tolerance level; changing that is maybe 1,098 on my list of my priorities to address in the overall scope of my life today.

      99% of the time, I will be calm in the face of disagreement. Another 0.8% of the time I will ignore, because asshole ways will not be fixed by a couple minutes of interaction with a stranger. Not my responsibility, not my interest. Another 0.2% of the time, I will respond with an STFU equivalent … and not feel more than a split second twinge over it. This is for reasons touched on in my posts “Bitch” and “Your belief is irrelevant.”

      Maybe after I’ve made better progress on my top 1,000 priorities, I will care more. For now, I don’t, though I certainly admire those who pursue it as a higher priority, as I admire all who not only aspire but–without trying to control others, as do even the most smiley of proselytizers–work to align their actions with their own priorities. That is a beautiful thing, and one I celebrate even if/when my priorities differ.

      Thank you for your kindness, and inspiring me to reflect.

  17. February 9, 2016 at 2:39 am

    I think you responded the way many of us would respond. It is hard to respond with grace when others are in your face.

    True story: Many years ago, when I had less grace (smiles) I also had a couple of large snakes for pets and lived in the desert. How those fine young men in white shirts a skinny ties found me, I will never know. They did so want to convert me to their form of religion though. So I invited them in for ice water (it’s hot in the desert) and a chat. While I sat at the table my 6 foot boa constrictor creeped around the back of the chair and around my neck (yes it was intended). You have never, ever in your life seen two nice young men in white shirts and skinny ties move so fast.

    I didn’t want to insult them, truly. But Sir (what would you call a 6 foot boa) and I really weren’t interested. Oddly, they never came back.

    You were right in your comments to the vegans. I find I am constantly annoyed, just like you were. I loved your vent and the picture was fabulous.

    ❤ ❤ ❤

  1. February 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm

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