Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Friendship – Reverb 10, Day 16

with 8 comments

What is Reverb10?

December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

I’m a bit late in completing today’s reverb 10, but there are several reasons why you will forgive me. One reason is that it is still today in my time zone, but the most important is that I am now 3/8 of the way through my medical education! Just 2.5 more years to go!

This was another prompt that I’m not sure I can interpret faithfully, and that doesn’t matter because I have decided that I’m simply not going to even try. I love my current friends, but I can’t say that they have been perspective changing. Maybe they were last year, when I first met them, but not this year. We agree on too much. We have reinforced each other’s perspectives but we have not done much, if any, changing of each other.

No, the people who have changed my perspective on the world the most this year have been people I don’t agree with, and this is something that I’ve done a lot of thinking about. And for good reason. This has been the year of the Tea Party. The year of realizing that there are medical students and doctors who have moral objections to abortion (I guess I just never thought about their possible existence). The year of actively trying to understand those I want to avoid because of our differences in beliefs.

I admit I’ve blogged about this already, right around when I first started thinking about it. But I’ve had so many more thoughts since. I’ve kept up with that woman’s blog. I’ve read some Mormon blogs. I’ve occasionally read up on the Tea Party movement. I watched Religiulus and found it, well, ridiculous and quite biased, but an interesting look at the far end of all of this. I was raised Roman Catholic so religion is not a foreign thing to me by any means, but the way it manifests in people’s lives is interesting. It can be so beautiful in some people, and so downright upsetting and tragic in others.

And through it all I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that people with a strong faith in religion are not necessarily people I cannot be friends with. That just because people may not have my same views on abortion, or gay marriage (or gay people in general), that it doesn’t automatically make them someone not worth knowing, or at least, not worth knowing about. I’m not about to become best buds with a lot of these people, but I’m not about to completely discount them either.

If I really believe that I am right, the best way to spread my views is not to completely alienate those I disagree with. I need to understand them first, and then maybe someday, I need to engage with them. My family is religious, and I come from a religious country, but it’s very different in Ghana. Yes there are people blindly following poorly credentialed religious leaders and being misguided, but there isn’t as much… hate. There isn’t quite as much pride or aggression. Religion was everywhere in Ghana and yet even though the US is apparently more secular, religion somehow feels more oppressive here and I’ve learned to try to avoid it. Don’t get me wrong. I have been and will again be very frustrated with how religion has influenced people in Ghana (we’re starting to get our own mega-churches), but I have never been scared by it. I have never felt threatened by it there.

In a way, I think religion is a red herring in all this. It was easy to think, well, it’s the deeply religious people in the US that I disagree with. But no. That’s not quite it. It’s much deeper than that, and I’m still working on untangling it all.

Written by Aba

December 16, 2010 at 11:38 pm

8 Responses

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  1. You’re so right, Aba. The ones that don’t agree with you, that make you think of a reality or a perspective outside of that which you believe to be true are the ones that can completely change the way you see things. I think religion is a contentious subject for a lot of people and I’m glad that you took the time to speak with people of strong religious views and realised that they aren’t all bad. A great sign of maturity is to not necessarily agree with something but accept it as someone’s opinion anyway.

    Stereo

    December 17, 2010 at 2:52 am

    • Well I haven’t done a lot of active engagement of those I disagree with yet, but I don’t actively avoid it now either. :)

      Aba

      December 17, 2010 at 9:32 am

  2. I am extremely conservative, have been to tea party rallies and am 100% pro-life. However, I completely respect your choices and beliefs and adore your blog.

    I have many liberal friends that disagree with me but we are able to have calm, rational discussions. Life would be so boring if we didn’t have people to disagree with!

    Rebecca

    December 17, 2010 at 8:35 am

    • I’m so happy that we can enjoy each others blogs despite our differences! I wish the general liberal idea of a conservative person was more like you. I’m working to change the idea in my own head, at least. I think the differences between us are much smaller than the media would have us believe.

      Life would be boring without some disagreements. :)

      Aba

      December 17, 2010 at 9:37 am

  3. I can totally relate, and I definitely haven’t untangled this one for myself. I go back and forth between “Live and let live/respect everyone’s beliefs” to “Screw that! Beliefs have consequences, and beliefs based on bad ideas/dogma/unreasonableness lead to harmful consequences, and thus challenging ignorance wherever I find it is the most ethical approach.”

    I need to figure out a way to challenge a person’s ideas and beliefs (when I think they cause unnecessary suffering) while at the same time respecting the person holding those beliefs. This is really tricky when it comes to religion, because many people identify with those beliefs above all else. I have no answers here, because some religious beliefs (and not just the extreme and fundamentalist ones) are directly linked to the political policies and cultural movements that I find most dangerous and harmful to humanity as a whole.

    Let me know when you untangle things on your end!

    Bob D.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:26 am

    • I’ll let you know if I ever untangle things!

      There are a range of behaviors that I fundamentally don’t agree with and it kind of makes me angry that they exist (like Abstinence Only sex education), but I’ve realized that you still have to try to approach from a place of understanding and acceptance. Because if you approach it with the anger you feel, you’re guaranteed not to see the change you want.

      But even then, it’s really hard to change a lot of these. =/ I know how you feel, and I generally feel the same way, going back and forth.

      Aba

      December 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

  4. Weird. Maybe I’m just dumb, but for some reason I can’t reply through my wordpress account. Huh.

    Anyway, yes. I agree that religion is a really contentious, and potentially dangerous, subject in the United States (and this is coming from someone who is very, very Christian!). It shocks people when I say this, but I firmly believe that the Church and State should be kept completely separate.

    I’m glad that you have found people that can help you understand your own beliefs more by challenging you rather than facilitating you. Somehow it makes one’s beliefs much more profound and relevant.

    Ashley

    December 17, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    • Huh, yeah, you’re right. I’m not sure quite how it works with the logging in, because it’s managed to pull up the correct picture by your comment, and it does for me too when I use my wordpress account as my website and I comment.

      It does make one’s believe stronger, when one is faced with disagreement. It forces you to really think about why you believe what you do, which is really important. No one should pick beliefs blindly and never question them. If someone agrees with me, but doesn’t really know why or doesn’t have their own reasons, that’s a problem.

      Aba

      December 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm


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