AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: May 31, 2011 | COMMENTS: 12 Comments
People’s need to be “right” perplexes me. Don’t get me wrong, I have strongly held personal beliefs that range from the passionate (i.e religion and politics) to the less controversial (which brand of paper towels is best). I’m always up for a good debate as long as it stays “above board”, but that takes self-control—a skill that seems to be elusive for many.
I must admit, I’m guilty at times of losing my cool when someone is challenging my notion of how things should be. Thankfully, it’s usually Sean and since we’ve been together for almost 22 years, we are able to recognize that when little off-topic insults begin to infiltrate a discussion, it’s best to “zip it” in an attempt to collect ourselves —easier said than done.
Recently Sean and I have engaged in a few online discussions with those that were quite bothered by Sean’s recent CNN blog challenging the Catholic Church about its doctrine with regards to assisted reproductive technologies. My Catholic Whispers blog seems to have ruffled a couple of feathers, too. There is a common thread amongst those that have their knickers in a knot over our use of IVF to conceive. They all have deeply held convictions in Catholic doctrine. If the Church deems it one way, it’s that way, for them. There are no exceptions.
I respect their beliefs. If that’s what helps them make order of their lives, or sleep at night, and their belief isn’t infringing on the safety of others, who am I to say they are wrong? If approached right, I may even want to learn about why they think the way they do. After all, if we’ve learned anything from our experience it’s that well developed dissenting opinions are often accompanied by valuable nuggets of wisdom.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single communication from those that are upset, that hasn’t initially contained or eventually denigrated into a personal attack against us or our family. One self-described devout Catholic said that our daughter is going to have a false sense of self –esteem because when she learns she was born from a “stronger embryo” she will somehow develop an attitude of superiority. Another has called us neglectful of Drew, Ryan and MK claiming that we didn’t pay enough attention to their achievements during our pregnancy with Logan. (We wrote about how we were hyper-cognizant of them during my pregnancy, recognizing that the challenges we were facing could distract us from their needs.) Yet another Amazon reviewer thinks we don’t belong in the pews of our church on Sundays. I guess we are not worthy according to her standards. The regretful reality is when someone loses their cool and litters their opinions with insults and attacks, they lose credibility. Any insights that could have been garnered from a respectful back-and-forth, are lost.
I realize that the ability to” zip it”, carefully reflect, and then return to a productive conversation is hard to master, especially when deeply held convictions are being challenged. I also recognize that attempts to conjure guilt, produce anxiety, and foster shame in another person are always a reflection of the mud-slinger’s core. (That’ another thing we’ve learned—people’s true colors tend to shine through in the face of adversity and frustration. My dad always said, “If you want to see who a person really is….piss ‘em off. They’ll show you their true colors every single time.”)
The concept of wanting to be right about a belief is understandable. What I absolutely cannot relate to is the need to tell other’s that they are wrong if they hold a contrarian view. I cannot imagine sitting in church on Sunday and being arrogant enough to judge the others there. Heck, in a world where Catholics are practically leaving skid marks as they peel out of the parking lot, never to return, and as long as the person in question hasn’t harmed another, shouldn’t we be thankful that there are people making an effort to worship? The attitude of “I’m right, so you must be wrong and (insert insult of your choice)” is never productive. It squelches respectful dialogue and defeats the concept of approaching others in a loving and compassionate manner.
We are incredibly thankful for the amazing support we have received from countless people including, many, many Catholics. For the five Catholics that felt compelled to show us the “error of our ways” with regards to how our children were conceived—in the future please exercise some self-control by resisting the temptation to insult and attack. You’ll never shame us (or anybody for that matter) into listening to you. In fact, my guess is more people would give you the time-of-day if you practiced being the loving, compassionate people that you portray yourselves to be.