Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Opposites Attract

My best friend and I are very different.  And yet very much the same. We met in high school, had classes together, and yet weren’t what you would call “friends”.  Acquaintances, really.  Then, right after graduation, we went on a school sponsored trip to Europe and that was the beginning of our friendship.  I don’t really know how or when we became best friends.  It’s not very likely that we would since she moved several states away for college, but through the distance our friendship thrived.  Even when she moved to England for a year to get her master’s.  Even now as she is back home living with her parents and I am, for the first time, the one who is a thousand miles away.  I am immensely grateful for her friendship, her love and support.  Without her, I don’t think I would have ever married my husband, because I wouldn’t have had the necessary faith to sustain a long distance relationship with him.  But because I saw that a long distance friendship was possible, I thought a long distance relationship might work as well (and it did).

My best friend is one of the most kind and thoughtful people I know.  Very humanitarian, very caring.   She is also very classy, having ettiquette in a society that seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word.  I too am traditional, and in this way we are similar.  We like sitting for long periods of time, drinking coffee and chatting.  We like making homemade meals and reading classic literature.  I imagine, someday, we will both be quite sufficient homemakers with lovely families.

Although, I will be content to have homemaker as my only job, and she will always work outside the home.  I took my husband’s name and she vows she never will - marriage will not change who she is, is how she explains it (although I think you would be hard pressed to find many married people who think it does not change you in profound ways much more important than in name).  Of course, our families will look different as well: the picture she sends out at Christmas will consist of her, her husband, two children, and a cat or two.  Mine (hopefully) will include David, our many children (five to eight, we are thinking) and a dog or two.  Set aside our obvious difference in pet preference (my father and I are both allergic to cats, so we had no choice but to be dog people), and you will see different lifestyle choices which in turn point to the main difference in our friendship: our different beliefs.

My best friend is agnostic while I am devoutly Catholic.  My world view is dictated by my faith, my love of God, and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Her world view comes from, well, the world.  From what her parents taught her, from her own experiences, from the ebbs and flows of society.  This has never been a problem in our friendship.  She has (almost) always been respectful of my beliefs, and I welcome her questions and debates because they force me to look deeper into the facets of my religion.  I am most certainly a stronger Catholic because of her. 

I struggle with the fact that she is not Catholic (or Christian or even religious at all), because I want her to experience what I have in my faith.  I also worry about what will happen to her after she dies.  She is my best friend and I love her immensely, so of course I want her to experience the joy of Christ and I want heaven for her.  I’m aware that it is not politically correct to think this way.  We are supposed to respect other people’s religious choices (and I do) and leave them alone.  In a relativist world, we are supposed to believe that people can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.  But if you truly believe in the Christian faith, then you must believe in a heaven and hell as well.  It is not up to me to attempt to judge who enters heaven and who enters hell, but I am loath to believe that ever person who dies goes to heaven, like many in our society think (when someone dies, you always hear, “He is in a better place” - but how are you so sure??).  While there may be other routes to heaven, I believe the Jesus Christ gave us one clear path to heaven - through Him.  So while many people would chide me for worrying about the soul of my best friend, for wishing she would convert, but how can I not?  I do love her for who she is, I don’t want her to change for any other reason than I want her to achieve heaven.  And if that’s not politically correct, I don’t want to be politically correct.

Sorry I started to ramble a bit at the end, but this is something I had to get off my chest for a while. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I voted, did you?

And if you haven't yet, what are you waiting for?

As someone who went to school to become a high school social studies teacher, I understand the importance of politics and the privilege/responsibility of voting.  In fact, I consider election day to be the biggest test for my (future) students, one that obviously doesn't affect their grade but will be the ultimate judge of my ability to teach.  If my students understand the basic government system, have enough information to know how to research candidates and topics and make informed decision, and actually put their knowledge to use by voting, joining a campaign, or even running for public office, then I have done my work.  Of course, I have my own political opinions, but I'm not interested in indoctrinating young people, just empowering them to make their own decisions based on fact and understanding of the political, social and economic systems (past and present) of this country and around the world.  Of course, this is all hypothetical, since I am currently a Starbucks employee and not a teacher, but someday...

I also believe that being politically active is our responsibility as Catholics.  Of course there is a separation of church and state (as there should be), but we should continue to fight for the dignity of human life.  This means fighting for the rights of the poor, hungry, homeless, as well as unborn, handicapped, and elderly.  We should also fight for freedom of speech and religion so that all people can have the freedom to worship as they wish.  Once the rights of even a few are stripped, it is so easy to slowly take away the rights of all.

This is, obviously, a very important issue to me.