This past weekend Annye and I went out together with our lovely group of girlfriends. Cue cute outfits, red lipstick and high heels.
A few hours later you could also cue a few too many drinks, singing at the top of our lungs and well, a disagreement between friends.
The topic of the argument is not important to this post. What is important, however, was how we handled it. Don't get me wrong, politeness was pretty much out the window, there was steam coming out of ears and voices that could probably have been lowered an octave or two. (Although it did take place in a really, really, loud bar.) But it all came from one strange place--love.
No friendships were ended. No hard feelings were had. We disagreed. We all felt passionate wherever we stood, and well, despite a little heel stomping, we seemed to respect each other for that fact.
Rewind to my high school and even college years and this evening would have unfolded into much more. I think, not because I was awful or I had bad friends, but simply because as you get older (I realize I am only 24, so take my wisdom with caution) you start to appreciate that people are different from you. They bring a different perspective to the table. Listen to their side and you may learn something. Maybe your opinion won't change, but maybe you'll take the time to understand why someone feels the way they do. Perhaps you'll begin to learn that although you may not stand on the same side, that other person has the same right as you to be standing.
As a CASA volunteer, they pose interesting questions at training. Could you show respect to a person accused of child abuse? Now it's not about whether you respect their actions, but could you show them signs of respect? Shake their hand? Listen when they speak? Look them in the eye?
Some may say no--they don't deserve any respect. And, well, maybe they don't. But what if you took the time to listen and found out they were abused as a child? It's how they were raised, so it's how they raised their children.
Let me of course say, I think child abuse is an awful crime that should be punished. But, I also think that taking the time to figure out why someone thinks its acceptable is key to a solution much greater than just punishment--ending the cycle of abuse.
All this to say I am grateful for a group of women in my life who are opinionated. Who come from different places and bring different perspectives. Women who I may or may not learn from. Women who I may or may not teach. But women who respect one another enough to listen.