I’m Tired of Walking the Tightrope

I’m walking a tightrope in my life.  The tightrope may not be physically dangerous, but it’s dangerous none the less.  And the only thing that prevents me from making that one deadly misstep is the realization that letting go requires perfect timing.  Otherwise, the results can be unpleasant at best and horrific  at worst.

The tightrope I’m talking about is one of convention –  – of  not calling people out when they speak with authority that their religious beliefs make them more moral than or superior to people of a different faith.

As I write this, I’m pretty sure my balance is getting very, very shaky.   But that’s nothing new for me.

In fact, I came very close to stepping off that tight rope the other day.   A meeting was wrapping up when the conversation turned toward politics.  That led to a discussion about the nation’s morals and values.  Or rather, the values and morals of the American public.

I was already standing up and collecting my things when the woman who had been sitting quietly next to me during the entire meeting stood up and proclaimed, “I’m a Christian. It’s so sad that so many people in our country aren’t.”

It took all of my willpower not to turn to her and say, “So, what you’re saying is because I’m Jewish, I don’t have any morals or values?”

(For the record, I’m not Jewish. I’m Lutheran. And faith plays a very important role in my life. I just don’t think that my version of faith is the only one God smiles upon.)

Instead of confronting the woman, I said nothing. But her comment bothered  me –mostly because I’ve  been hearing different versions of it for years.  People are holding Christianity up as though it were membership card to  a club that scorns non-members.  It’s almost as though their club is actively recruiting new members while holding its nose up at those who choose to join a different club instead.

To me, this behavior is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught.  He preached acceptance and love of everyone.  Period.  And I’m pretty sure his message was primarily about how we treat each other rather than what we call ourselves.

I say this because I have friends of a different faith, or even of no faith, who behave more like Christ than a lot of people who call themselves “Christians.”  They help without judgement. They  give without expectations. They accept without an agenda. Most importantly, they simply care about other people.

I recognize there are people of non-Christian faiths who have committed horrible acts in the name of their religion. But, if you look at history, a lot of Christians have done the same.

At the same time, there are many, many, many more people who have committed acts of compassion in the name of religion – all types of religion.

Faith is a beautiful gift.  But giving to others – regardless of  faith –  is also a beautiful gift.

As my friend Holly so eloquently stated, “If  a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Jew and an atheist all working together on a Habitat for Humanity House, what’s the end result? The house gets built and a family that didn’t have its own home now has one.”

To me, that’s the value that America needs: the value of appreciating our differences while working together to care for everyone –  the poor in resources and the poor in spirit. It’s a value of judging less and caring more.

What America doesn’t need are people proclaiming that there is only one religion with the right values and/or that only Christians are moral.

So, there you go.

If I haven’t fallen off my tightrope by now, I’m pretty sure there’s someone who wants or is willing to push me.

But, just so you know, I’m going to get right back up.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter and son at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on December 10, 2011, in My life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks for taking the walk!!! This is a tough subject to tackle!!! You did a great job!!!!

  2. so true! I never like hearing people’s debate over their religion. For me as long as people respect and be kind to one another, all is good.

  3. I agree with Betty. A tough subject to tackle and you did it with class, as usual!

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