Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer resides in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and head of Religion-Outside-The-Box rotb.org, an internet-based, global group of 3.2K+ digital-age seekers. ROTB produces excellent spiritual content.
The Embrace of Two Friends
Laurence C. Keene
I have two friends who just happen to be friends with each other as well. Amy and Stephanie have been friends for many years but while they agree on many things they do not agree on matters of religion and politics. Their effort at trying to convince the other of their particular point of view on either of these two subjects has proven to be completely fruitless over time. Amy is very conservative in most of her religious and political views and Stephanie is quite liberal. Although they claimed to love one another deeply they no longer used the word ‘friend’ to describe their relationship when they talked to others. They both admitted to a feeling of drifting apart and didn’t quite know what to do to close the growing gap between them. Stephanie told me the other day that Amy said to her: “You keep talking to me about being more inclusive and accepting of others who are different from me but you are not including me. You are not very accepting of me for who I am and for what I believe.” I said to Stephanie: “I think you need to stop engaging in your verbal vigilantism that tries to put Amy in what you think is the ‘correct position’ on matters of religion or politics.” I went on to say to Stephanie that loving and accepting people is the ultimate good we can achieve in life. “I would rather stand before the Almighty some day and be judged for loving too much than for loving too little” I said to Stephanie. “Does loving someone with whom you disagree always work?” I said to Stephanie. “Does it always succeed in changing their mind?” I added. “Not always” I said. “But this one thing I know for sure, not loving never works! It never brings two people who disagree with one another closer together. It always makes the gulf between them wider.” A day later Stephanie called me, crying. She said she phoned Amy and apologized for being so blind and inconsiderate. She said to Amy that having and sharing her love meant so much more to her than any set of ideas or intellectual conclusions she could convince Amy to believe. She said that she wanted Amy in her life more than she wanted any carefully-reasoned point of view that she and Amy might agree on. They both cried on the phone together because it was clear that Amy wanted the same thing. Their was no warm embrace over the ideas they argued about the day before, but there was definitely a warm embrace when they lovingly cried together the following day!