Why can’t we all just get along?
This question seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. Arguing and discord have taken over entire aspects of daily life.
What happened to the concept of agreeing to disagree and moving forward? Instead, people want to create drama, and lots of it. It is totally unnecessary, divisive and destructive.
I am not suggesting we all join a commune and sing “Kumbaya” all day. But can’t we have a dialogue without fear of retribution?
For instance, I recently went to a Chevy dealership to have my car serviced. I sat in the waiting area reading through a manuscript when an older gentleman sat next to me.
He greeted me, “Hello there, Miss Teacher.”
I smiled. “I’m not a teacher. I’m an author. I’m reading through a draft of one of my books.”
“That’s very interesting.”
Then he asked the usual follow-up questions. We bantered back and forth for several minutes. Then, I returned to editing.
The television was tuned in to a morning show. Someone mentioned the Pope.
Then the guy next to me made a derogatory comment about Catholics.
I said, “That wasn’t very nice. I’m Catholic.”
In hindsight, I should have kept my mouth shut.
He accosted me, “Well, they don’t teach you Catholics anything. I’m a retired Baptist minister. I know what I’m talking about. Your Bible is even wrong.”
Ugh. Here we go.
Defending my upbringing, I said, “I went through twelve years of Catholic school. In my opinion, I received an excellent education.”
Shaking his head and wagging his index finger, he attacked, “I’m talking about religious education. All I know is that you people don’t know your Bible at all. And you certainly don’t know anything about religion because they didn’t teach you anything right.”
Seriously? I just want to edit my pages in peace. Why can’t I do that? Because you opened your mouth, Suzanne. That’s why.
At this point, two people who were seated near us got up and moved to another part of the waiting room.
I was now sitting all alone with this guy.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
Trying to defuse the situation, I replied, “I understand that that’s your opinion. You are entitled to it.”
Looking for a fight, he challenged, “I can prove it to you.”
Almost daring me, he said, “You just have to answer a few questions.”
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
I resigned myself to answering his questions because he was going to ask them no matter what anyway. And honestly, I wanted to prove the pompous ass wrong.
With a gleam in his eyes, he questioned, “Are you ready?”
Annoyed, I responded, “Go ahead.”
“What’s the definition of ‘Catholic’?”
I quickly replied, “Universal.”
“Hmm. Okay, you got that one right.”
I waited for the next question.
“What does ‘ritual’ mean?”
Happy the question was easy, I said, “It’s something you do over and over again.”
Disappointed, he admitted, “You got that one too.”
Of course I did. I’m not a moron.
With an almost sinister look and tone, he asked, “Where do you go when you die?”
“We were taught that if you’re good, you go to Heaven. If you’re bad, you go to Hell. But there’s also Purgatory. Some call it Limbo…”
Interrupting, he yelled, “There’s no such thing as Purgatory! Show me where it’s mentioned in the Bible. You can’t. You know why? Because it’s not there! There’s no Purgatory in the Bible.”
I don’t know about Purgatory, but I am definitely in Hell right now! How do I know? Because I’m sitting in an auto repair service waiting room defending Catholic teachings to a former Baptist minister. If that isn’t one of Dante’s circles of Hell, it should be!
I countered, “You’re asking me questions based on what I was taught. So, I am telling you what I was taught.”
Goading me, he questioned, “So do you believe everything you were taught? Even if it’s not in the Bible?”
Friends, I am way too smart to answer that question.
I stonewalled. “Purgatory isn’t mentioned by name, but some passages describe such a place. But it doesn’t matter what I believe. I am answering your questions based on your premise of that I wasn’t taught anything. Next question, please.”
He demanded, “Tell me what you believe.”
“I’m not going to argue with you. Next question, please.”
Clearly not happy that I would not debate him, he asked, “What’s a cathedral?”
“It’s a special type of church.”
“Not good enough.”
As I pondered what to say next, a male voice behind us shouted, “Purewal?”
I have never jumped up from a chair so fast. I waved my hand vigorously. “Here!”
The guy looked a bit startled at my reaction. No one is ever that enthusiastically happy to talk to a service technician.
I swept up my belongings in both arms. Clutching my stuff against my chest to keep it from falling on the floor, I headed in the technician’s direction while bidding the retired Baptist minister a very hasty, “Adieu.”
The technician informed me they cleared out the trouble codes. However, they could not duplicate the condition.
Of course not. So I’ll have to come back again.
I can only hope and pray that former Baptist minister will not be there the next time I visit.
I still do not understand why a perfect stranger felt compelled to antagonize me. He wanted a fight, and he was clearly disappointed that I would not argue with him.
What is important to me is if you live a good life and are a giving, caring and loving person. Do no harm. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Instead of trying to find ways to divide and conquer, I ask you to find ways to include and unite. Love one another, and be good to one another. It’s just that simple.
If you have questions about Purgatory, here’s a blog that goes into detail: http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/is-purgatory-in-the-bible
Copyright © 2016 by Suzanne Purewal