Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Turning The Other Cheek

I made plans with a friend yesterday, whom we shall call C. C and I were on our way when all of a sudden that ranting asshole from last week came up to me and said, "I just want to apologize. I stepped over the line." Except he didn't say it in a calm way. I was in a hurry and I didn't have time to respond to him. But I started to try, for a few seconds before I realized it was pointless.

I'm sure he felt he was doing the right thing by 'apologizing'. But for apologizing to be any value, you have to CHANGE the behavior you engage in. A few weeks ago, I was ambushed, shouted at, shouted down, insulted, and finally, the sexual comments came out. Yesterday, I was ambushed. I was apologized AT, not apologized TO. I must be maturing as I get older, because I I didn't start talking to him. Talking to him would be similar in some ways to talking to a brick wall. My words would have little to no value or effect on him unless I said exactly what he wanted to hear. He made sure he did the most talking possible, and even though he could tell I didn't want to speak to him at the moment, he just kept going anyway. So what he really wanted was to feel better, not to apologize.

So I turned the other cheek. I just didn't engage. Maybe THAT'S why Jesus said to turn the other cheek.

But the story continues.

I had a nice time at a local basilica. To me, Catholic churches are fascinating and exciting. It's a whole new shiny world I saw as a kid and figured that the grass was greener on the other side of my own Hebrew school recess yard. Catholic churches excite me. So we went in and saw some beautiful artwork, explored the gardens, the view from the basilica, and, of course, the gift shop!!! I bought a Rosary prayer book and general prayer book and got my friend this really cool stylized pewter key. What is that supposed to symbolize - a key to heaven? I wanted to buy one for myself but I figured I already have too much crap and hey, what am I gonna do with a key that doesn't fit into any lock? I laughed pretty hard when I saw the 'stations of the cross' in the gardens. There was a stone statue of Jesus lying down on a cross with a Roman clutching a hammer above a nail set into Jesus' hand. My mind kept flashing back to a Mad TV parody of Sex and the City, and I couldn't help thinking, 'that afternoon, he got banged. He got the banging of his life.' That's my personal sense of humour.

My friend and I split up for a while and met up later. She mentioned the incident earlier, and how inappropriate his behavior was. And then she brought up, for the second time since the fight I'd had with Mr. Crazy Rant three weeks ago, the fact that, in her opinion, I 'provoked' him. I hadn't confronted her about her behavior the first time, but I wasn't going to let it pass a second time. I told her that she couldn't possibly know what had happened since she wasn't there. I pointed out that the only reason she had any information about the incident was because I had told her about it, and she had called me back some time later to inform me that she had 'heard', that 'someone' had told her, that I had provoked him.

I have to be honest. Telling someone who thinks the biblical figure of Abraham was an important, wonderful man that, in your opinion he was a rapist and enslaver and would be imprisoned for no less than 10 or 20 years if he were taken to court in this day and age, is going to make them angry. There are parts of me that thrive on confrontation an controversy. And I'm sure as I continue my spiritual journey I will someday become one who always strives for harmony and is very considerate of others. Does this mean I 'asked for it'? Does this mean I somehow 'deserve' or am 'responsible' for another's harassment an inappropriate sexual comments? Part of me thinks, yes. I went out seeking anger and and confrontation. And part of me thinks, how dare C or ANYONE else speak to me as though they are my judge and jury? How dare anyone tell me I am 'responsible' for another's negative actions, including sexually inappropriate behavior? How dare anyone repeatedly confront me with their opinion about my apparent 'crimes' as though they have a complete understanding of what happened, and as though they were fit to judge me?

God, I can be such a drama queen.

I remember how once at a spiritualist meeting, I read a piece of literature aloud and changed the masculine pronouns to feminine ones. I could hear the cringing and tension in the air. Afterwords, over coffee, I was confronted, and talked AT again. It was explained to me that I was only doing it for attention, how I was possibly harming the newcomer, how I should contact a world service organization to ask how to proceed if I wanted to get the literature changed so I would, presumably, be permitted by others to read the literature with feminine pronouns. I was also laughed at and made fun of a bit. And that reminded me a lot of what happened a few weeks ago, and what happened with my friend C. Both times I felt I had acted wrongly, and yet I also sensed that maybe I wasn't deserving of verbal abuse, and there was some merit to what I was saying. Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world for me to be confrontational. Maybe I'll continue to practice the spiritual principle of harmony, which doesn't mean I have to agree with or go along what another is saying. Maybe then those who are threatened by feminism and humanism will be less antagonistic in debates. Or maybe not. But I am not responsible for another's behavior, speech or aggression. It is my job to grow and be the best human and spirit I can, being responsible for my own behavior, speech and aggression, not another's.

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