Get OFF My Freaking Lawn.

31 03 2016

I try really hard to be a nice person who behaves in a courteous fashion to her fellow humans.  All of her fellow humans.  And that’s the hard part.  Treating everybody as I wish to be treated.

So here I go, making blog hamburgers out of potentially sacred cows, and possibly poking at religion in an election year in which one of the candidates wants to toss all Muslims out of the country. Because, hey, they’re Muslims. (That was sarcasm. And the fact that I have to state that? Sigh.) Except that it’s not and never has been about religion. It’s about the Golden Rule, and the fact that the meat of that tenet shows up in Every. Major. World. Religion. 

(As a comedic aside, can I just take a minute and silently thank the world religions who have never come to my door?  That list includes the Jews, the Pagans, Wiccans, New-Agers, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, well, actually it includes all of the world religions in fact, …except some local Christians.)

When I first bought my house 2 years ago, the local Jehovah’s Witness church (and another Christian church who wasn’t one of the “big” denominations but listed “Christian” in their church’s title on the ubiquitous pamphlet I got handed) came knocking about once a quarter.  Okay.  That’s fine.  I politely demurred taking their literature, explained that I was an eclectic Buddhist who was not interested in converting, and then asked if they would like some water or if they needed use of a bathroom. (Treat your fellow humans as you wish to be treated).  I repeated this process (sometimes repeating myself ad nauseum – “No thank you, I’m not interested. Are you thirsty? Do you need to use the bathroon? No, I’m not interested in your pamphlet. Thank you.” – every time they came to my door for a year and a half.

Now, I own a business.  And from a business perspective, if I tried cold calling the same company or person 6+ times a year to be told, “No thank you, I’m not and will never be in the market for your services. Please take me off your calling list.” I don’t know that I would continue to call. It seems counter-intuitive and likely to garner me an eventual phone slammed down in anger from the other end because I’ve not gotten the message.

From another strictly business perspective, if someone has to continually recruit, (case in point my local Walmart always has a ‘We’re hiring’ sign up) to me that says nothing more than, “We can’t keep good people. We have to keep hiring new ones.” I understand that I’m mixing business metaphors with religion, and that that may offend some people.  If you are becoming offended, hang tight.  Read on a little further – because I’m not actually trying to offend anyone. (If I were, you would know. I swear a lot when I don’t care whom I offend.) So bear with me, there’s additional information I haven’t gotten to yet about this scenario.

So far, the pamphlet-waving hordes have been at my house 3 times this month. (YES, I said MONTH). The first time, they parked me into my own driveway (there were two cars of them tag-teaming the houses on my road) just as I was flying out the door to be on time somewhere else.  We then proceeded to have a “conversation” (them trying to convert me, me explaining “I’m trying to get to an appointment.  Can you please move your car?”) which took way more time than it needed to, and in which I had to repeat my request for them to move their car.  End result? Don’t park me into my own driveway, then WATCH ME lock the door, head to my vehicle, and then proceed to engage me on the wonders of Jesus.  I can’t even.

The second time this month, I saw them coming and got up from my work (because I was afraid that they would see me working at the table through the window and not leave until I answered the door). My experience with getting them to hear my “No thank you.” regarding their literature, and then the last time getting them to move their vehicle swiftly taught me that whatever my wish for our encounter was, it was unlikely to be respected.

RESPECT.  That’s one of the points I’m trying to make.

I put up a sign after that.  “No Soliciting. No Proselytizing. Thank you.”

Today my doorbell rang.  Third time this month.  I answered it. A nicely dressed lady tried to (again) speak to me about the wonders of Jesus.  I pointed to my sign.  I said, “Proselytizing is trying to convert someone religiously speaking. Please read the sign. Thank you and have a good day.” And I shut the door.

And I hung up another sign.  

 To me, it’s a Gordian knot of respect and consent and tolerance all mixed up together. (There is a lot of swearing in the video link fyi.)

Don’t make me tea.  Don’t make me your koolaid.  Don’t force me to drink tea or koolaid when I’ve said I don’t want either, thanks. I feel like the current state of affairs has people gleefully stomping all over the concepts of respect, consent, and tolerance.  Please note, I’m not making blanket statements about any group.  I am specifically speaking about the ones who obviously can’t read or don’t care and therefore, keep blithely knocking on my door. But I think it’s endemic of a bigger picture and a more widespread issue.

I was respectful until it was clear I was not respected in turn.  I consented to engage in polite refusal until I got parked into my own driveway.  I tolerated what I viewed as harmless and quirky behavior (and I am not throwin’ stones here – I myself  have an amazingly long repertoire of “quirky” behaviors that pretty much confirms the ‘I’m an eccentric artist-type person’) until it became evident that “no” (which is, in fact, a complete sentence all on its own) only seemed to result in more frequent visitations.

I’ve voted for my candidate, and it’s not Jesus.  I’m not saying Jesus is wrong.  I’m saying that that path is not my path. And when any path – be it a religious path or a political path, social path, etc. – leads people to disregard, disrespect, override consent, and become intolerate of others? Then we have a problem, and I feel like regardless of any broad-brush quality that someone may possess as a descriptor or identifier (blond hair, Jewish, tall, transgender, gay, hairy, bigger than me, taller than me, in a wheelchair, etc.), that, generally speaking, if they are a human being then they are therefore worthy of the holy triumvirate of “how to treat people.” Respect. Consent. Tolerance.







2 responses

2 04 2017

When those ‘religious’ types show up at my door, I quietly inform then that I have a degree in theology and unless they want me showing them the philosophical errors to the theological underpinnings of their religion, (and I am very capable of doing it), I have no interest in talking to them, good day to you. That usually garners a confused and worried look as I close the door.

2 04 2017
M. Sotherden Art Glass

It’s unfortunate really – I’ve lived in several states, and this particular group is the first to not take me up on my offer of a glass of water or a bathroom (so long as they understand I’m not interested in discussing religion) and to basically diss the notion of respect. I would love to be a fly on the wall though, if there ever was such a discussion as yours. I like interesting conversations.

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