Thursday, November 15, 2012

Polite Dinner Conversation?!?!

Well, I can’t say I didn’t see it coming!  Especially, so in the heat of a presidential election, I saw it coming.

Being an adventurous woman, and having lived in two great cities through college and there after as a volunteer and teacher for the past five years, life and experiences here and there have inevitably  changed and adjusted some preconceived notions that I once subscribed to that have changed and adjusted.  Anyone who’s ventured away from the safety net of home can tell you the same.  Meeting and befriending diverse people, and experiencing life in new realms and contexts will inevitably challenge some beliefs and stances that you might have grown up with. 

Now with that said…

It was a promising evening that was conjuring a couple of weeks back - girl time and homey cooking.  Dear friends of mine and I had somewhat spontaneously planned a Pintrest dinner at another friend’s house.  Everything about it I was eagerly looking forward to: girl time, cooking and exchanging recipes, wine abundant, and the good company of great gals!  Chitter chatter of nursing school and clinical work; talk of work in youth ministry; babble and gossip of the latest boy gossip; and retelling of a very recent (and very Catholic) wedding proposal.  At this point after a tedious prep and cook time with my long time childhood friend Amy, we were all at table; all, being eight other young women (two of which I know well, and the others honestly I’m just getting to know as I assimilate back home).  Fresh outta the oven egg plant parm was being cut and served, an almond of sorts salad was being divided, and a buttery and yummy baked bread was being ripped and tantalizing our taste buds when the two topics you’re always told to never talk about over new company and at the dinner table was brought up…

Religion and politics!!

It came up that many of the young women at the table do a lot of work for the Pro-Life movement.  Kudos to them – truly!  The discussion progressed to talk of sisters that some were familiar with, and was thought of as perhaps to be a casual Catholic, and maybe even progressive in thinking.  “Nuns on the Bus,” was the proceeding topic.  Perhaps, to no fault of their own, someone mentioned that the nuns associated with “Nuns on the Bus,” were campaigning for Obama; at which point a disapproving reaction was had by a handful of some of these women at table; and then it happened, I snapped inside.  If you hadn’t figured out, I was sitting at a red table, not a blue table.  As the discussion continued to have a reactionary disapproving scowl to anything Obama, and anything that wasn’t “traditional Catholic,” my blood boiled hotter and hotter. 

Truth be told, I was fuming and seething inside with anger towards some of the misinformed or perhaps skewed talk going on.  Truth be told again, I was also frozen and paralyzed; I couldn’t bring myself to open my mouth and challenge the discussion, as I was the new girl at the table.  To most of these women, I’m still a stranger, and because of how skewed and single issue oriented the conversation was I knew if I opened my mouth, it wouldn’t have come out well – again at a table where I was the new girl.  Well, my dear friend Amy, who knows me all too well, picked up on my fiery flaming eyes of irritation and anger from across the table; knowing what I was thinking, she attempted to speak for me; as I was not in a good position to speak well.  Many thanks to Amy for that! 

Why was I so irritated?  Four reasons.  One: there’s a frustration I have when people get talking pro-life; I find the topic and some (not all) efforts to be very short sited.  Let it be known that yes, I am pro-life, but you will not find me at a pro-life walk or praying in front of an abortion clinic (not that all pro-lifers do that).  To be honest, I find it rather insulting to women struggling with unwanted pregnancy, that so much is done to keep a baby, and not a minute amount of effort is done after to support the mother and newborn.  Life is from conception to natural death; it doesn’t stop at birth.  Life means access to affordable health care; life means access to affordable education to better ones self; life means food, shelter, a family – because that’s all a part of a quality life.  Once more, rather than trying to simply outlaw abortion (for fear of back ally and coat hanger abortions), wouldn’t looking at prevention do better for these women at risk.  Prevention in the sense of abstinence (but realizing that abstinence can’t be the only prevention); menstrual cycle education; more afternoon programs for high school students to get involved in (because when teens have more programming and purpose they’re probably less likely to get board and knocked up). 

Two:  when the decision of a vote comes down to one issue, or that one issue weighs more heavily than other relevant and serious issues, I find the decision to be made unfairly and too simple mindedly.  What’s a society abortion free, if there’s a lack of infrastructure to support a thriving life for all?  I can’t imagine ever proudly boasting that we’re abortion free, when the majority of people are born and live in poverty and lack of opportunity to advance themselves.  How miss prioritized, miss directed, and insulting. 

Three:  the manner in which some of those laid back and progressive nuns were being referred to; or how some were reacting to them made me livid!  Nuns on the Bus is an organization of Catholic Sisters, who are missioned to stand with people in need and to be witnesses for economic justice.
They speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan.  They do so because it harms people who are already suffering.  So when reactions by some of the young women at the table are reactionary and judgmental because of miss information towards the women to stand for and with the poor, I have a problem.

Four: I didn’t say anything!  I choked!  I didn’t have the courage that I know I have to challenge the women at this dinner table.  Yea, I know I was sitting at a table a stranger to most; yea I know I was more than irritated inside and fuming as a result; but I’ve more than been an out spoken young spit of fire since my early 20s.  So why couldn’t I say anything then?! 

The answer is many, but what it comes down to is, I’m human, and sometimes I chicken out – simply put.  Was it hard to be in new company and not share their beliefs – yup!  Was it rather intimidating to be somewhat of a minority at the table, with a different perspective – totally!  Again, knowing myself at that moment, if I had challenged any of the young women at the table, my challenge would’ve been emotion driven – which is also not a good combination at a fine dinner table.  Truth be told as well, the conversation and discussion caught me off guard; if I had see it coming perhaps I would’ve been more even keeled.  The good news is, I know I’ll have many more opportunities to engage some of these bright women in this kind of discussion again, and perhaps bring new perspective to what they know.  Words of wisdom tell me as well that perspective is changed not over one dinner conversation but many discussions  and real experiences.  And so, perhaps not all hope is lost from my one chocked defeat.         


  1. if you were a guy you'd fit in pretty well at our apt. either way you're welcome to come by.

  2. My Dearly beloved cousin, I have a few questions that maybe you could answer. If there was a candidate whose policy it was to “mercy kill” all people over the age of 70 would you still vote for that person because you believe that they have a better social justice plan to help the poor and needy? What is a society, free from all poor and needy people, if we build that society on the blood of the innocent? How can you say that you are pro-life, in any real meaning of the sense, if your number one concern is not for helping defend the defenseless? How can you even say that you are for social justice when abortion is the most fundamental social justice issue in our country? Where is the justice for them? What good is it to gain another “perspective” if that perspective is simply wrong?
    The one thing that I do agree with you on is that we should be doing more for the pro-life movement, especially when it comes to supporting the mother. It starts by getting involved by going to the pro-life walks and praying the rosary in front of the abortion mills and that should lead to greater involvement helping those who truly cannot help themselves. I find it insulting to women that they are being lied to and that Plan Parenthood really doesn’t plan anything, except the death of your child.
    And if you truly want to help you should support groups like the Pregnancy Counseling Center where they do actually help women. There are groups out there; you just have to find them. Also we must stop voting for pro-death candidates because we are morally culpable for those we vote into office and the blood of the innocent will be on our hands. I pray this perspective changes some hearts. God Bless my sister in Christ.
    PS Those questions are not rhetorical (especially the first one). I would really like it if you answered them.

  3. Oh Luke,
    Ya know I love you, but why do we always seem to but heads. First I feel important to express that neither presidential candidate I felt enthusiastic about - at all. In answer to your first question, I don't think a candidate who posed a policy of "mercy killing" would get very far. In both contexts it is murder, yes, BUT, in abortion it becomes controversial because it's "someone's right to choose," because it's their body. I'm not saying I agree with it, I'm saying you can't compare the two.
    Second question: I'm not saying that we should completely abandon the "pro-life" fight in order to fix all the other problems of this world. I am asking, where is the balance?? Why can't we comfort and console frightened women who carry an unplanned child, AND look at and do something for the poor and needy??
    Third question: it is your opinion when you call abortion the number one social justice issue; to others it might be human trafficking; while to others hunger or housing. You ask how can I call myself pro-life in any real sense?? With all do respect big cousin, I'm offended by that question/statement. Make no mistake, I am pro-life; I have prayed for women who carry unplanned children; and I do not support any agencies that preform abortions. If you question my level of being pro-life based on how many pro-life walks I attended or how many times I pray in front of abortion clinics I simply have to disagree with your definition of being pro-life. It's more than holding signs in the streets or proudly praying in front of a building. It's looking at prevention. And as I said, life doesn't stop after the labor of birth.
    Next question: what perspective of mine, do you deem wrong??
    Next: I do appreciate you filling me in on the Pregnancy Counseling Center - I will be looking into what kind of programs they offer in their organization. Truth be told, I've been finding out more of agencies that do actually do alot to support women throughout pregnancy and there after - which I'm glad for.

    I'd leave you with this, I do not think we should abandon efforts in the pro-life movement, all I'm saying is re-assess the efforts.