We've been back in Washington for two weeks. Almost everyone I know here is middle of the road or progressive, both politically and faith wise. As far as I know.
In Tucson, where we live in the winter, half the people I know are conservative. It's a different environment down there. Some people "stick with their own kind". One group I attended this year sees itself as a haven for progressives. However, this year we had several fascinating conversations. One day we had a transgender woman as our speaker; the next week we were visited by a woman who was trafficked as a prostitute from age 16 to 22. She is now 52, and she's advocate for those trying to get out of the business. I learned hugely from these two women. Maybe I'm naive, but it seems to me that conversations with "others" are broadening, regardless of our political or spiritual views. I relish the idea of a diverse group participating together in these conversations.
Another group I attended this year is mixed. Of the 30 or so people who meet at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays to discuss current events, views range from tea party conservative to far left. We're not avoiding each other on Wednesdays. We're encountering, on purpose, people who think differently from us. I doubt that any minds are changed, but we sometimes educate each other. And most of the time we're respectful of each other's opinions. I like that. I am learning how conservatives think, and although I will never be a conservative myself, I'm grateful they're sharing their views.
I am slightly left of middle of the road politically and further left faith wise. But I benefit from my conversations with people whose views diverge from mine.
One day in March my handbell choir played at the in-resort Sunday service. In that service I noticed a number of the conservatives from the current events group. It was the first time I had seen most of them outside the Wednesday afternoon discussion. It's been many years since I listened to a sermon given by a conservative Christian, but I well remember the message. I realized again how my world view differs. But again, I was grateful for the exposure to the differences.
I believe we're all in this life together. I try to live in a loving, compassionate way. I feel accountable for how I use the talents I've been given; I want to be a good steward of those talents. I suspect many of us, Tea Party or Far Left, Baptist or Unitarian Universalist, have similar inclinations. I think we have more in common than in our differences.
So who should I know? People like me and completely different from me. The very young and the positively ancient. The libertarians and the conspiracy theorists. The panhandlers and the preachers, the illegal immigrants and the holders of work visas. Whoever crosses my path.
This morning I went to my church and sat with 200 people of divergent spiritual views or none. We are a community of love and service. We listened, we sang, we laughed. These are my people. I am glad I am home.
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