I’m including this whole conversation because it was a learning experience for me. It was a test, for me not to be judgemental, angry or close minded. To continue to be listen calmly even though I did not agree with almost ANYTHING this gentleman said. I walked away thinking, “what if that guy was God?” What if he was just testing me.

I had hoped to convey that people build you up by showing you were you are weak. Well, someone read this and sent me a good link, (thanks Parker) so I’m putting that right here, it’s a Pema Chodron video. 

I walked out of the store, having bought a banana. I’m in Circle, MT. I was there last year, waylaid for a couple of days and so I’m excited to go visit Paula at the Travelers Inn Motel.  A gentlemen and his family look at the scooter and start asking questions. I go for it and tell them all about the mission, give ’em the spiel. I think it always comes out sounding genuine, because I believe in it with all my heart. Approving nods and ah has are happening. Good. You just never know in certain areas.

They ask, how do you define Peace?

“Well, how I take care of myself, my community and the environment”
“It’s the ability to not always impress my idea of how something should be, but have the humility to accept what is best.
Non-judgement.  Finding alternatives besides anger, violence and judgement to resolve a disagreement. ”
Pause. I could go on.

Something comes up about pacifism. I say I’m peaceful, but that requires action. I say the word pacifism is perceived as non action, but it takes a rather big commitment to  achieve your goals through  non-violence and non-agression. In fact,  I think it’s harder, because, in policy, pacifism isn’t our customary modus operandi.

He says, “Ghandi…”

“Yes, Martin Luther King, yes. Ghandi said that the end is inherent in the means.”

He looks dubious.

“For instance, anger begets anger. War doesn’t bring peace, it brings submission.”

“Hitler defined Peace as submission.”

I think this is where the ball starts rolling. I might miss a couple of lines here, sorry Merit.

I don’t know what I said to that (what do you say to that?)  and it was obvious Merit had his own agenda and has probably used this angle numerous times in his spiel.

He asks if I think Hitler was wrong.

I think about it for a second. “Well, actually, I can understand that what Hitler wanted to protect is people. That’s what he thought he was doing. But killing others to protect his people was clearly wrong. I’m more focused on what he did, and how that mentality can be avoided in our future, than just saying Hitler was wrong.  Hitler was a suffering individual,  his ego cried for attention and power made him feel important.

“Is murder wrong?”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

“How do you know murder is wrong?”

That’s a damn good question. And quite frankly, I’m shocked that we are having this discussion. In front of me, but to Merit’s side, stands his son, perfectly stoic. Merit has the spotlight. I still don’t anticipate what lies ahead. It should have been clear to me that Merit does this often.

“My belief in a greater spirit.”

“A god?”

“I don’t call it a god. I don’t feel like I need to, hmmm, let me explain. I recognize that there is something definitely greater than myself. Knowing this makes me understand that other men/women are small also. If you can appreciate how small you really are, I think you develop an empathy that makes you less competitive, judgemental and violent. We compete to be bigger and more powerful. But we’re all really small.  I think what makes us big is when we work together, despite our differences.”

“So YOU believe murder is wrong.”

“Yes. ??”

“But, how do you KNOW?”

It’s really a life defining moment for me. In my head I see myself  thinking protection is the only justification for harming another person. Then it’s survival right? But in my heart I don’t agree with this. I’m confused now. My approach involves what is an idealistic world, and only faith in that can keep me working towards its creation. This means I have just as much faith as Merit does, although he might disagree, because his faith comes from a specific God and commandments.

“I know because we have hearts that allow us to care and minds that allow us to create a better solution. We have no reason to murder.”

“Then it’s based on what YOU believe, which is really no different than Hitler. He had a belief too.”

Oh this is cheap.

“So how do YOU know murder is wrong?”

“The Bible.”

“See, the thing I don’t understand is that if we are created by a God, he/she/it gave us a brain, right? Did God give us a brain to not exercise it? I think a God would ultimately hope that we don’t need commandments to be good, conscious beings. If God doesn’t want us using our noggins, why are there friggin psychedelics out there?” (I don’t say that part)

He carries on, I can’t remember all of it.

I comment that isn’t it beautiful that I have a grasp on universal truths and I don’t even go to church. I’m trying to find a common ground.

He implies that it’s egotistical of me, similar to Hitler, AGAIN, because I consider myself the governing body of my life.
I say that I have appreciation for all living things and that meditation is my form of prayer.
I say if, I am created in God’s image, then wouldn’t I inherently know the Golden Rules?

If I’m practicing them why would I have to go to church?

Then I ask him about homosexuality. I’m really interested to hear someone say they think it can be cured by God. I’ve heard this before on TV.

“Oh that’s a sin.”

He quotes the passage. I ask if there is more than one. He quotes those also.

I ask if he’s ever considered stoning his neighbor for working on a Sunday?
It’s cheap, I know.  Most Christians, Merit, included, don’t believe they are bound to the Old Testament other the 10 Commandments.

“Oh, that’s Old Testament.”
“So are some of the examples you are giving me and so are the Ten Commandments.”
(which is all SO confusing, because in one part of the Bible Jesus says, if someone hits you on the right cheek, turn other cheek to them also. And then Moses is saying an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.)

He proceeds to tell me that homosexuality is a sin, that homosexuals can be forgiven, but it is clear that the Lord does not approve.

I’m wondering if it is a ethical sin, no one gets hurt afterall, except for messy breakups and love triangles. It might be a religious sin, like touching a pigskin (dammed football players) or touching a menstrating woman.

“Can God cure homosexuality?”

He believes that when the homosexual honors God’s will, the act itself will cure those lustings.  He compares it to adultery.
“No where in nature is their homosexuality.”

Ha.  I took biology.
“Monkeys. Monkeys engage in homosexuality and orgies, actually.”

He shrugs it off. He says, “I can see bulls mount bulls, but they are animals, we are better than them.”

I want him to stop comparing adultery to homosexuality. “Adultery is different. You’ve made an oath to your wife through marriage. Aren’t homosexuals created in God’s image also?”

He says that humans are given choices and that we will struggle with sin. So, yes they are created in his image, but it is their challenge to overcome this curse.

I ask if he’s ever lusted for a man, or been in love with one.
He says No.
I tell him he’s fortunate that he hasn’t had to  experience the feeling of loving someone with all your heart only to think it is a sin.
I also mention that the Bible, from my shallow understanding doesn’t condemn loving monogamous homosexual relationships, the focus in the Bible is actually all the gang raping and lusting that’s happening.
And that he should be thankful that God didn’t say it was a sin to love women. Then I ask about the girl on girl action because I’m a little confused by the Bible’s terminology. Seriously, I think there is one reference to it, all the other language is men on men.

I’m being playful at this point, but it’s helping me handle the fact that I’ve just met myself a religious fanatic.

Merit tells me something to the jist of accepting God’s law or continuing to view myself as a cosmic accident.

He tells me, pointing to his dog, that made in God’s image, I am better than his dog, better than the chicken he ate for lunch (rubbing his belly) or the deer, cow, or pig he can run over in his car or shoot in the head.

I’m a little sickened by this.

“Actually, aren’t they God’s creatures too?”
I go onto to say that assuming these creatures are inferior to us has given us a dominion over land and cockiness that mostly leads to a rape of the land. I point out the problems with eating meat just because it’s our God given right. Like all the grain and water that goes into feeding a cow, all the land that grows the grain, and meanwhile people are starving.”

I say that our problem is we think we are better and more important than the land and its animals. I say, maybe we can think, Merit, but look at all the sin it leads us into, huh?

Perhaps those animals that you say are “raping, lusting, looting and pillaging,” (not lying) are actually more divine because they don’t go through the process of sin and choice that we experience.
Then I tell him that indirectly my dog taught me how to treat humans better. And he did, because one day I thought-“geez what if reincarnation is true, and I came back as the dog and he was my owner.”
Probably not gonna happen, but what IF?

Merit said he could tell the conversation was over, shook out his hand, and him and his son walked away. He must do this often, because i’ve never seen a family so patient. We talked for almost an hour and they just stood there. Before he walked away, he told me, “I’m ok, I’m gonna be fine.”

Thanks bud.

To soothe the intensity of this post, watch a funny video by Bill Hicks! Caution, a few F words, if you’re at work, turn down the volume!