Apes to higher minds in a lifetime

This morning at breakfast Riquard and I were talking about some of the social differences between our countries and our respective governments: how integrated religion is into the constitution, etc. And the subject of gay marriage came up. Riquard is the minister of an evangelical church. And when he asked me my opinion on gay marriage, and whether or not it should be legal, our entire relationship flashed before my eyes. And I swallowed the risk like a big rock-hard ball of phlegm in my throat, of voicing my genuine opinion, and creating a rift in our relationship. I guess at some point I made the conscious decision, but sometimes when your body is trained to respond in a certain way it will do so automatically, and the decision making becomes no more than a faint blimp on your radar, easily overridden. I feel like since I have been here, and been practicing being stronger, practicing doing what I believe to be the right thing as much as my fear of social exile resists me, the automatic biological response has grown in strength. It will answer the call before my superego can stop it, reconsider it, weigh the pros and cons back and fourth, and what comes out is some watered-down, sanitized version of my heart’s dialogue. The end result of this training is that I am more sure of myself. I doubt myself less. I ask the blunt question more. And here I was, diving in to a diatribe about gay marriage. And I could feel myself separate like the peel of a banana from its meat. My conscious self was aware of this sensation of sliding down a waterfall, thinking that I will deal with the repercussions of what I am saying after the fact. But I was simultaneously happy and proud of myself because I knew in that moment some part of me was responding in the right way, doing the right thing. It was like being subjective and objective at the same time- the passenger and the driver at the same time. In broken Spanish I tried to piece the words together of a proclamation. I also had to find the fuel for my fire-what points exactly I wanted to bring up, and then pick and choose between them: which ones might resonate with Riquard as a sixty year old traditional indigenous man of an antiquated world and a strict Christian faith. And some part of me too was able to manage what I wanted to say with a sensitivity for him, and open ears for his perspective. And I think, in full, that’s the best way to approach such a situation. When you want to stand up for what you believe in but you love the person before you and don’t want this make a big ugly stain on your relationship… when the other person is too different to possibly understand your perspective in one conversation, or too set in their ways that they’re not going to change anyway, so what’s the point? I think it is then, necessary to speak your mind but in a way that doesn’t render theirs wrong. And to always keep in mind why they believe what they believe. Although I think homophobia is wrong I don’t blame Riquard for holding his belief, because I see the world in which he was raised. These beliefs are attached to us, I think as I watch Clamer (the other pastor in this town, of the Adventista faith) preach in church and tell us that we did not come from monkeys because if we did, we would have tails, and that those who don’t love Jesus will be condemned to Hell. And although I disagree, I distinguish between the things that he says, and who he is. I don’t love him less for being wrong. “It’s complicated” I told Riquard, after I had finished. And meanwhile I thought in my own mind, “No, it’s simple” (of course gays should be allowed to marry). And I think he had the same thought that “no, it’s simple,” that gays should not be allowed to marry. But what IS complicated is reconciling what you find to be true when you think completely and utterly for yourself with the logic of a child, and what you have been conditioned to believe throughout your upbringing. It is so so sooooo hard to unlearn the socialization that one has been taught. I find myself doing this in this age, starting as recently as a couple years ago. And perhaps that’s what old people are: they harbor the simple wisdom of a child, but balance it with a dignified head. They are warriors in that they have learned how to harness their natural urges. While the children parade around like apes, seeking food, hitting their brother when they feel crossed, crying when they are tired, utterly incapable of recognizing the personal needs of their mother for some peace, and thus they live on either extreme of the spectrum …of being pure in thought but also being purely driven by biological needs without an ethical or social dialogue. Thus the id and superego are one in the same.  In our youth and young adulthood the superego develops and the planes diverge. We teeter back and fourth between them, feeling a constant angst in our souls for their perceived mutual exclusivity. And then in old age the planes converge again. But this time, they do so with the superego fully developed, yet fine tuned enough to reconcile with the id. The elderly have found a marriage between their ape ids and the dignified consciousness we try to build in church. I felt as I was talking to Riquard that I was operating on this common ground, on the playing field of the warrior, of the zen master, or any master. Where one voices his or her belief in a way that’s not going to drive away his audience, that isn’t going to build this wall between them, but in a way that will resonate with the second party, to build a bridge between the two of them so communication and understanding can flow and from this they both will become more enlightened rather than further barricaded into uncompromising and impotent world views. Thus, in our individual lifetimes, we in a way evolve from apes to higher-minded humans.

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