I’m Right, So You Must Be Wrong…and (insert insult of your choice)!

AUTHOR: | POSTED: May 31, 2011 | COMMENTS: 12 Comments
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Carolyn Savage

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.

12 Comments on “ I’m Right, So You Must Be Wrong…and (insert insult of your choice)! ”

  • tracy | May 31st, 2011 5:41 pm

    Well said… sadly it isn’t just the Catholics…When I talk about J, M & M and the donor… wow let me say I don’t share as often any more!!!
    Thanks for sharing!! ~T

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  • Tonya Murd | May 31st, 2011 5:55 pm

    This was written very gracefully. This is truly something everyone should read.

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  • Carolyn Savage | May 31st, 2011 5:57 pm

    T – Oh trust me…I know the inability to exercise self-control isn’t exclusive to one religion. Unfortunately, for us, these are the only people who have attacked us thus far (to our faces). Thanks for the comment, T!

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  • Tammy | May 31st, 2011 6:03 pm

    No matter how women produce children or speak about the topic of infertility everyone feels the need to convey their beliefs. This is usually accompanied by a million different it isn’t “correct” or “they way they would do it.” However, MOST of these people never lost a baby or had trouble conceiving one. Its a good thing that those of us who have, have learned great patience in waiting and listening. You don’t have to believe what I believe, just respect my right to believe in it myself.

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  • Betsy | June 1st, 2011 9:27 am

    Carolyn – i just finished your book and have now started following you and Sean’s blog. Going on 3.5 years of infertility, it really spoke to me how we can still love God and He can will love us, no matter the outcome. It saddens me to think we as Christians still need to judge one another. Havent we come any farther? Obviously these people have never made tough decisions or huge mistakes or faced great adversity. You make YOUR decisions based on your relationship with Jesus and you dont worry about anyone else. He is the ultimate judge, no one else. I know you already know that, but its a lesson a carry with my always.

    God Bless from a fellow infertile Catholic. 🙂

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  • Carolyn Savage | June 1st, 2011 10:05 am

    Betsy, Best of luck with your journey to build your family. God does love us…no matter what.

    You know what I’ve discovered? Some of the people who are so bent out of shape actually have experienced significant loss. There way of coping is to subscribe to the letter of the Catholic doctrine. It brings them tremendous peace. That’s why it is so upsetting when another person (who sits in the same pews on Sunday), comes along and questions that very doctrine. The doctrine helps them make sense of things, and if you or I disagree with it, we are tipping their apple-cart of comfort. I completely understand why that is upsetting to them and will continute to remain respectful and compassionate towards them.

    Again, so glad you are here and wishing you the best of luck.

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  • TLmom | June 1st, 2011 11:57 am

    You are not “questioning” the doctrine. You are openly and publically dissenting from it.

    Therefore Catholics are required to call you on it via the Spiritual Acts of Mercy and paragraph 1868 of the catechism.

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  • Carolyn Savage | June 1st, 2011 12:50 pm

    And if that makes you feel better…fair enough.

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  • TLmom | June 1st, 2011 1:44 pm

    I don’t understand. If what makes me feel better? I’m trying to explain to you why some of the Catholics have felt compelled to admonish you. I thought you were looking for insight.

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  • Carolyn Savage | June 1st, 2011 6:10 pm

    As I have already stated, I understand the teaching. I also understand certain people’s need to “admonish” others for disobeying it. My blog post addressed the need for those with opposing views to keep discussions/comments productive by refraining from insults and attacks.

    Edited to add that I am not going to be engaging in further back in forth with TLMom based on her most recent comment. (I didn’t approve it. It is unproductive.)

    On another note, I received a lovely email from a Catholic woman who bridged the topic of the Church’s teachings regarding IVF quite eloquently. I think she shares the same views as TLMom, but never reduced herself to attacking and insulting. I hope to copy it here because it was an example of what to do when compassionately approaching such a sensitive topic. (Waiting for her to reply with permission to reprint.) She and I will probably have a nice talk and we both may come out of it more enlightened. Love that!

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  • Lyndsey | June 1st, 2011 5:01 pm

    WEll SAID!!

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  • Phar Koff | June 16th, 2011 7:31 pm

    Lets hear it for the millions of decent well behaved ATHEISTS in the world!

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