Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Conversation With Another Evangelist

So I'm walking down Princes Street today when this tall older gentleman (I'd place him in his late 60's at the youngest) offers me a Gospel pamphlet.  I politely decline and he goes on his way, offering other people his pamphlets as he goes along.  And then I stop for awhile to look down at some of the gardens, which are really very beautiful, and he (apparently forgetting that he'd already spoken to me) offers me a pamphlet again.  I still decline, but this time, we talk.  I'm not entirely sure that my point (that most people are looking for wisdom in whatever way makes the most sense to them, and that people have to reach their own conclusions about what to believe or it just won't sit well with them) really gets through, but it is a pleasant and interesting chat nonetheless.  We part ways again, wishing each other a good day.

I have a habit of attracting people who want to talk about God, for some reason.  I'm not sure why.  (Maybe it's just a logical extension of my tendency to get drawn into conversations with random people.)  I know that a lot of these people tend to talk to anyone they can get near enough to say "Have you heard the word of the Lord lately?" to, but in general I seem to get more of these people talking to me than most people do.  Even though my own perspective on spiritual matters is inevitably different from theirs, and although I usually feel that I have to be quietly subversive rather than totally open about what I actually believe, I've always come away from these conversations with some form of  insight, and hoping that I've been able to give the other person the same thing.  

Actually, this tendency of mine used to drive my mother absolutely nuts before the JWs stopped coming 'round our place; I'd talk to them, but I'd always steer the conversation in whatever direction I wanted to go in, not following the JWs' planned spiel.  I have a feeling that it drove them a little nuts, too, which I have to admit was the main reason I did it...but then, since JWs tend to be the sort of proselytizers who really annoy me to begin with, I figure that the sheer entertainment value of de-railing their conversion attempts was a fair exchange for the annoyance of having them there in the first place.  Besides, even in those conversations, I usually came away with some new understanding, even if it was only a further understanding of the sort of belief that leads one person to arrogantly assume that their beliefs are the only Truth, and that anyone who doesn't believe what they do is wrong and should be converted and/or shunned.

Today, though, the insight, more of a gentle reminder, really, was that sooner or later, those of us who look for wisdom in the spiritual realm are generally looking for the same thing.  It doesn't matter what path we're walking, whether we're following an established one or blazing our own trail; as long as we hold on to the concepts of compassion, respect, and love for each other and the world, then what we're looking for is a way to build a better world altogether, and I'm not talking about the possibility of life after death, but this world, but with less poverty, corruption, and greed.

I know it's not going to happen in my lifetime, but as far as I'm concerned, that's no reason not to work for it anyway.  If humanity is to survive what's coming at us, we'll need that kind of a world, and people who are willing to work for it.  My conversation with that gentleman today reminded me of that, and for that, I am immensely grateful.

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