Just because I am now singing this song constantly in my head, I thought I'd share the joy:
Go ahead. Take 2:39 minutes to enjoy the flashback. And join me in this special
hell place where it will constantly be on repeat in your head.....
On with the post.......
Why the annoying song? you might ask.
I've been thinking a lot about friendships the past couple of days - what makes a friend, what is the purpose of a friend, what is my role as a friend. The past few days, as you can see from the last two posts (the second one remains unanswered, although it's been viewed hundreds of times. I'm still asking for definitions there) have been full of quite a bit of passion. There are few things that I feel as strongly about as the dignity of ALL human life - young, old, sick, healthy, sinner, saint, etc. My Facebook wall has been entertainment for business offices, other parents, and even people I don't know, come to find out. Not entertainment as in "Haha! This girl is WHACK!" - although I'm sure there was a bit of that - but entertainment as in "I can't wait to see what happens next." There was a lot more interest than I anticipated in the events of the last week.
Why does all of this action make me think about friendship?
Believe it or not, it's not because I have friends who agree with my stance on the above issues. Sure, they are there, but I love the friends that I don't agree with, too. They are all my brothers and sisters, in my Catholic world view - not one of them is better than the other, especially not based on whether or not they agree with my views.
I thought about the concept of friendship precisely because of those friends who didn't agree with me. Friendship isn't supposed to be easy - we aren't supposed to always agree on every single point. As individual human beings, each with our own abilities in reason and intelligence, it's impossible that we will agree about every single issue out there. I understand that, and I respect that. I also respect those friendships that challenge and push me to learn and grow as an individual. The past few days has clearly pointed out to me that I do have a core group of true friends: those who only want the best for me and who want to see me get to Heaven.
In a Catholic worldview, humans are made in the image and likeness of God, with the purpose of spending eternity with Him in Heaven. That is our final destination - our goal: to spend eternity with God in Heaven. Nothing can be better than that. For thousands of years, even before the dawn of Christianity, this belief in a monotheistic God who created man to live with Him in eternity was the basis of laws, expectations, and entire countries.
Along the way, we live in communities with other humans. We are all charged with the mission of helping each other achieve that final goal: eternity with God in Heaven. I'm just as much of my brother's keeper as I am my own. True friends recognize this, and although it's not easy to do, it is important to recognize. I care just as much about my friends' salvation as I do my own - and it is expected of me to aide them on their journey. Even the few atheist friends that I keep in contact with admit to the fact that we live in community with other humans, and we must care for good of those around us. This isn't purely a Catholic idea.
Where does this leave us, a group of diverse, caring individuals?
I'm afraid, that in our current society...it leaves us on our own. We're afraid to speak out to those around us - afraid of "offending" them, or being accused of "intolerant." Our culture is one based on great individual freedom, but also on incredible fear to stand for what is right. My generation - and the generations below us - have slowly evolved from "Other Fellow First" to "No One Can Change MY Individual Truth." We've become a culture where what matters most is my individual freedoms, my individual wealth, my individual needs.
We've become a society that has twisted this idea of individual liberty to form an environment where there is no absolute right or wrong. We can justify every action - often by turning around an placing the blame on another individual. To protect ourselves.....we attack our brothers.
We have a government that states that a woman has an "undeniable right" to end the new life (dictionary definition of pregnancy) inside of her (often at the expense of the father of that new life and, more glaringly, at the expense of that new life)....
...while at the same time stating that people of a religious denomination (Catholics, in case you are unaware) can and will be forced to participate in what they very clearly teach to be an intrinsic evil.
Our very core cultural values of the right to LIFE and LIBERTY are being threatened....and yet we refuse to see it.
The past few generations of being afraid to recognize - much less subscribe to - the fact that there may just be an absolute Truth out there has caused my generation to be one of constant floundering, living lives where our moral truths change on a daily basis, and are dependent on who is yelling the loudest at that moment. We find ourselves supporting the attacks on these very basic building blocks of our country: the right to life and religious freedom. If we do recognize the need to speak up...we're afraid to. We're afraid to challenge those around us, for fear of being called judgmental or intolerant. We are implicitly condoning the stripping away of our basic rights as human beings, as defined by our great country, every time we refuse to speak up.
Do I think that I will be able to change things at the national political level, especially on my own? Probably not. I'm just one person.
But what I can do - and will continue to do - is fight against this wave of moral relativism that pervades our society. I will continue to challenge my friends, and those around me, to truly live as our brother's keepers. We may not subscribe to the same faith in the end, but in the end, I hope that I can challenge my friends to care as much about their fellow man - ALL of them - as they do about themselves.
I firmly believe that while we all sin and fall (on a regular basis), at the root of every human being is a heart, mind, and soul made in the image and likeness of God, who is all good and perfect. At the core of every one of my friends and acquaintances is a burning desire to do good, and to help their fellow brothers and sisters.
I challenge you to act on that desire, daily.
Think about everything you do and say: who is being put first with that action or speech?
Go out of your way to help or serve someone else today. Smile at them. Hold a door. Donate to a shelter of your choice. Speak the Truth of the goodness of ALL human life to them.
Love them until it hurts.
Be a true friend, challenging your friends to live a life of virtue and love.
I challenge my friends - and especially my generation - to return to a culture of life.
A culture where all humans are seen for what they are: made in the image and likeness of Love.
It can - and it must - start with us.
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. " - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta