Through the years I have had dear friends from all walks of life. In "real" life, as well as on Facebook, my friends include liberals, conservatives, moderates, Christians, Muslims, Hindu and Sufi; Pagans, Wiccans, Atheists and Agnostics.I have friends who are heterosexual and homosexual and bisexual. Some of my friends are working mothers and others, stay-at-home dads and even a couple of stay-at-home moms. I have friends who are single parents, step-parents; friends who choose not to have kids at all. I have had friends who don't have pets and who love, love, love their pets. I have friends who are founders and CEO's of multi-million dollar companies and friends who are homeless. Some of my friends are White, Latino, Black, Asian, Native American and, at times, when we have imbibed excessively, I have even had green friends. I have a couple of friends who don't even think they are from earth and quite frankly, I have no problem with that.
What I do have a problem with is when some of my "friends" post or make super negative or derogatory statements that hurt people. When a conservative or Republican posts comments suggesting that liberals are idiots instead of discussing the issues, or when a Christian friend belittles someone who doesn't fit in their personal going-to-heaven-box it annoys me. Correction: it disgusts me. After two or three such comments or as one of my more conservative friends stated this morning, "harmless little jokes", I am repulsed. At least on Facebook, I am only repulsed long enough to click two or three times to find the "Unfriend" prompt. I have slowly (slowly being purely relative) been deleting people who were on my Friends list. I have noticed that when I hit the Unfriend prompt, that a couple of loyal people to the recently-Unfriended-friend then search out the "Unfriend" prompt on my Facebook page and click on it. I'm okay with that. Loyalty is a good thing, you know that flocking "birds-of-a-feather expression.
A few months ago, I might have felt a little guilt for such an action on my part. With some remorse, I would have felt that maybe I was not being "open" and trying to understand the other side. I have realized that Ugly is Ugly. I don't want people who are ugly in my life. I don't want people who make jokes at other people's expense in my life because that is ugly. I don't want people who attack other people because they don't fit into their preordained box.
The year 2013 is going to go down in my own personal history book as the year I really cleaned-house. It may also be the year in which many of the people, who know me, ask each other, "What the hell is up with Toni?" There may be many more who don't even remember they once knew a woman by the name of Toni and to those people I have to say you probably really didn't know Toni. Hell, I didn't even know, really know Toni, until this year. It wouldn't surprise me if a large number of "Friends" will delete me because they detect the changes in me. I'm okay with that too.
What I have discovered is that I am much more tolerant of some behaviors and much less tolerant of others. I have discovered that I have less friends, but those that I have are closer, more loving, and more loyal and have an innate respect for others, including those less fortunate than themselves. I have discovered that having boundaries and respecting them is perfectly okay. If some people don't get it, that's okay too, because these boundaries are my boundaries and my responsibility to maintain them.
This year I have "lost" friends who were self-described Christians, Atheists, Republicans, Democrats, Academics and Conservatives, White-collar and Blue-collar. Some will be missed, others, not so much. But "lost" is maybe not the correct term. Lost is when you drop some change into the pocket of your old jeans, and as you walk, the coins make a little trail along the path as they liberate themselves from the hole you forgot to repair. Lost is what happens to "the other" sock in the washer or dryer. Lost is having forgotten the way or gone astray.
If, by the end of the year, I have only a dozen friends left, on Facebook or life, I know, with all my heart, who they would be. I also know that we don't agree on all things. When we have a difference of opinion we will listen to each other, treat each other with respect and honor and a little humor. We will not worry about one-upping each other, unless it is to have a funnier joke, but they all know that I am the funniest so they needn't try too hard! (wink) We will make fun of each other but not at the expense of each others' self-worth.
I will always love them, even though one of them wrinkles her nose when I wear "leather" shoes, one of them wants to hit me in the head with his bible when I stand up for equal rights in marriage, one of my friends grumbles about flash mobs and I love them. The list goes on about stuff we might disagree on but we share the same values when it comes to honoring other people and each other.
I look forward to the day that all people can discuss issues with compassion and a full-hearted attempt to hear the other person's side.
Oops, forgot Gratitude Journal, April 3, 2013
I am thankful for Michael McD, his humor, his humanity and for kick-starting my labor---twice!
I am thankful for Kaitlyn's excellent time on her Run last weekend! Go Katie!
I am thankful for compassionate people.
I am thankful for flannel sheets and down pillows.
I am thankful for boundaries without barbed wire.