Wednesday, May 19, 2010

They Won't Like Me

Being friends with my biological brothers (my father's sons) on Facebook has at least one serious drawback: I'm almost certain they won't like me.

It's not that I lean politically to the left. I'm pretty sure they do, too. Maybe I lean more to the left, but I don't think it's a major obstacle. After all, they seem to be more left than much of my adoptive family, but I'm still able to maintain a relationship with them. Of course, we have decades of history to bind us together. I don't have that with my brothers. And it makes me feel on much more shaky ground.

But the real hang up, for me, is that I get the impression they are much more supportive of the military than I am. At least, I think this is true of the elder brother. And I worry that if he finds out my real views on the world, he won't want anything to do with me.

Hell, much of the time, I don't like myself. How can I expect people who seem to think some of my views are downright un-American to like me?

I think I've almost resolved to go to the reunion in July, but I don't know why. I'm not sure they really want me there.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pious Words

This is cross-posted from Over A Candle. It Is a general post from me, applicable for many contexts. It seems especially relevant to adoption, though, as I have often been told similarly uncompassionate things by people when talking about adoption issues. So I thought I should share it here, as well. I hope you all don't mind.

Last Friday I attended a service at the local synagogue. It’s a reformed Jewish community, and I followed the prayer book carefully throughout the service. At the bottom of one page, I noticed this quote from Martin Buber:

When people come to you for help, do not turn them off with pious words, saying: “Have faith and take your troubles to God!” Act instead as if there were no God, as though there were only one person in all the world who could help - only yourself.

This is one of the most profound statements of compassion I think I have ever read.

Too often I have heard someone dismissively suggest something like “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Perhaps this gives comfort to someone, but I know too many people who have suffered mightily under the weight of their lives to believe it. It sounds rather unsympathetic to my ears.

Buber believes in God, but suggests that piety is not what is called for when someone is struggling. Rather, compassion is called for. It is not our job to tell someone to feel differently because God will handle it. We should instead listen to the person, not dismiss their pain. After all, they have come to us for comfort. It would seem heartless to pass the responsibility on to God.