Not everyone feels like speaking up. Not everyone can speak up. Those of us who can should speak up for those who can’t.
Several of my friends have recently lost family members. Some are so stricken with grief that they can’t tell us what is going on. They need us to stand by them and speak words of love and support.
I recently got into an argument with a born-again. You know the type. “I’m right, you’re wrong and you’re going to hell.” Maybe, but that’s none of her business. I was talking with a dear friend in a coffee house when this person thrust her nose into our private conversation. Now, my friend and I were speaking quietly about our beliefs in the spirit world and how those same spirits watched over those left behind in the world. We quietly folded our hands like this _/_ and said, “namaste” for a different friend whose husband was dying of cancer.
A woman at nearby table rose and walked over. She called us pagans and said we would burn in hell. We weren’t welcome in this coffee house. My girlfriend asked if she was the owner. She wasn’t, but because SHE was having coffee, we weren’t welcome. Much as we tried to ignore her, her voice became strident. It rang across the shop at the very moment when no one was steaming milk. “You’re going to burn in hell,” she repeated.
By now, my gentle girlfriend had had enough. She rose to her grand height of 5′ and stared the woman down. When the woman quit shrieking, my friend suggested she not cross our paths again because we hadn’t sacrificed anyone lately. If she continued, we would break our vow of no human sacrifices. The woman left.
A man started clapping. The entire coffee house cheered. My friend sat down, visibly shaking from the confrontation. Neither of us were prepared to be attacked for our beliefs. We weren’t shoving them down anyone’s throat. We just wanted a double-shot latte with skim milk. Just coffee and conversation and a brief prayer of healing.
When we stood to leave, the owner came over and apologized. I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder. “It’s neither your fault nor your responsibility for the behavior of your patrons.”
He nodded. “Let me be your voice this time. I will never tolerate prejudicial behavior.”
My girlfriend and I left. Outside, she whispered, “Do you know who he is?”
“His wife is a pastor of one of the most fundamental churches in the area. And he welcomed us.”
We grinned and walked away, more than willing to let this man be our voice this time.