Several weeks ago, I ran across Lynn Beisner’s article at Role/Reboot, “I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me.” I posted a response on my blog: “Lynn Beisner, I’m glad you’re alive.” Wednesday, I heard back from Beisner. Post comments close two weeks after the post appears, so she left a comment on my About page:
I could not find a place on the article that you wrote about me to comment. So, I came over to this page just to say thank you. You are one of the few religious people who did not tell me to go abort myself. Your thoughtfulness and kindness is very much appreciated and it reaffirms my faith.
She put a link to my post on Facebook, and tweeted a link to it as well, calling it a “respectful, well-considered response!” (Thanks, Lynn!)
So, what does a writer do in a case like that? Writes back, of course!
Dear Lynn Beisner,
Thanks very much for taking the time to leave a comment. And you’re welcome.
I’ve read some of your other stuff on Role/Reboot, and enjoyed it. Obviously we have some fundamental and serious differences. I don’t wish my mother had aborted me. I couldn’t have made supportive sounds if my son had told me he’d lost his virginity in a panda three-way. (At least I don’t think sobbing would probably have sounded very supportive.) And we have some very different ideas on what the mess we’re in is, and how to get out of it.
But we also have some serious common ground.
Middle-aged wordsmiths. Mothers of young adult (and, in my case, nearly adult) children. Fat. Geeky. Introverted. (Loved your “Why Introverts Fail At Attachment Parenting,” by the way). With that habit of soldiering on no matter what. Because of that fear of being–or being perceived as–a wuss.
And the religious upbringing. With the feminist awakening.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I read the Bible for the first time beginning the fall I was ten. I still remember where I was when I hit 1 Corinthians 14:34 and heard Paul say that women should be silent in church. I was stunned. I asked the pastor about the passage. And discovered the Land Of In Between.
It seemed our church couldn’t quite swallow the idea that women should actually be silent in church. But nor were they ready to treat them equally (a la Galatians 3:28). So women could speak from the pews, but not from the pulpit. They could speak on Wednesday nights, but not on Sunday mornings.
It was all very weird and random, and rooted way more in we’ve-always-done-it-this-way than in any study of or serious regard for Scripture.
Then I hit high school. My ninth grade English teacher started lending me his philosophy library, one book at a time. Heady stuff, and way more challenging that anything I’d ever heard in Sunday School. My tenth grade Women’s Studies class opened up, as they say, a whole new world for me. And I leaped into it with both feet, feeling like I’d come home.
But, obviously, you and I have found our way to some very different places philosophically.
Which brings me to my proposal.
In your article on the Penn State sanctions, you said:
I am forever looking for a way to understand conservatives. I want to see past the bluster and seemingly willful ignorance, to see them as hurting human beings and have compassion for them.
Here’s the deal, Lynn. I’m glad you’re trying to understand conservatives. But I’m pretty sure you’re not there yet.
When you say, as you did in your article on Rachel Maddow’s depression, that conservatives are happier than liberals because we’re “not troubled by social injustice,” you build a straw woman. I am troubled.
When you say, as you did in one of your public Facebook comments, that I “would not save the life of your uninsured writer” and have “this utter contempt for the ‘moocher’ class,” I would very much like to know what part of what I wrote said that to you.
So here’s my proposal: Let’s figure out a way to talk, you and I. In public. Where other people can listen in–and can jump in, if so inclined. Let’s try to create a snark-free zone: not just remembering to observe the common courtesies, but actually trying to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I’ll assume you’re smart, thoughtful and compassionate–not a leap, having read your writing–and you try to do the same for me.
This isn’t a gauntlet. I realize there are 101 perfectly good reasons why you might not be interested, have time, etc. And I’ve deliberately avoided trying to iron out all the details because what I’m proposing would be a collaborative effort and you ought to be in on defining the ground rules.
But if you’re interested, please let me know. We’re killing our ability to talk to each other in this country. People on both sides of the ideological divide toss out ridicule and insults so casually that I think a lot of it’s reflexive now. They’re hardly aware they’re doing it. But I don’t think it’s too late to change. And perhaps you and I, in our own small little corner, could help with that.
Lynn Beisner, can we talk?