Overheard by Accident; Philosophy by Design

Count this as a rant.

I was sitting at breakfast one Saturday morning recently. In the booth behind me were a young woman and an older gent. I just assumed they were father and daughter, but I’m traditional that way. Or so I thought.

As I was reading the paper and waiting for my usual order—scrambled eggs with spinach, cheddar and onions—I could not help but overhear the young woman. “There’s a reason Adam was named before Eve in the Bible,” she said. “We need that structure. God put man in charge.”

I was actually glad my order had not arrived. It was all I could do not to choke. What was I hearing? I had visions of Phyllis Schlafly going at it with Gloria Steinem. I had to wonder what brought us to a place where a seemingly intelligent young woman could toss away all the strides we made as women with one seemingly simple statement.

I don’t discount the power of Biblical stories and I’m not and never have been an activist but I do believe in equality. However, she was so strident that I wanted to turn around and say, really? Have you not noticed that the Bible is allegorical and “man” stands for human? I wanted to say, you’re too young, I suppose, to have experienced abuse whether physical or emotional at the hands of a man. Have you not seen the violence that some men think is ok?

She touched a nerve, no doubt. You could see why I might have reacted poorly. But, I’m pleased to report that I kept to myself.

Their conversation continued to interrupt my reading but for the most part, the usual din of a diner— dishing clinking, people moving by, and other conversations muffled it. In time, I forgot the statement and enjoyed my breakfast. However, the thoughts kept percolating in my head. What good did my predecessors fighting for equality do? Was this next generation going to pull us back to Victorian era tenets? Was my foundation of belief going to be pooh-poohed by the next gen?

Wow, I had to go there. No Saturday morning comics or stories of civil unrest could jimmy those thoughts from my brain.

Then it came to me. You have to honor people for what they believe, even if you don’t agree.

Now I could breathe. I could say to myself, yeah, you’re young. Life has so much to teach you. That settled me down to enjoy my breakfast.

When the young woman got up to leave with her elder companion, I simply smiled at her. She had no idea how uncomfortable I had been when I overheard that small part of her conversation. She had no clue that I struggle for that short time with basic philosophical underpinnings of my own belief. She would never understand how she actually helped me formulate one more platform for my personal philosophy.

So no, we are not losing any ground. We, I hope, will learn to be more tolerant of others and their opinions. I long for the days when it was okay to agree to disagree, when civility was king. Until those days return, I will remember to honor folks for their opinions and beliefs no matter how wrong I think they are!

That is my wisdom for the day.

Do you have any wise nuggets to share?


4 thoughts on “Overheard by Accident; Philosophy by Design

    1. Not at all. We are often closer in philosophy than you think. I just cringe when someone is a bit to strident and dismisses my own opinions without a thought. Which you never do. The young lady didn’t either since I never let her know…oh it’s good to have a place you can go and fade into the walls sometime.

  1. I once was in disbelief at a conversation I heard on an airplane by two women sitting behind me. They were a bit older than me, perhaps in their late 30’s and I’m in my early 30’s. It wasn’t a sexist conversation by any means, but at several points during their conversation I had to really hold myself back. I wanted to turn around and ask something along the lines of, “do you live in a cave?”.

    The highlight of their conversation was before we took off:
    Lady 1: “Hey look at that airplane! there’s an eskimo man on it!”
    Lady 2: “Wow, tha’ts really neat. Alaska Airlines – I wonder if he’s an important guy up there?”
    Lady 1: Maybe he’s their president.

    I’ll never forget it. At that time Bush was still the President, but I’d hope that by now with Sarah Palin in the picture – those 2 women have learned that Alaska is in fact, a state.

    1. It’s amazing how unaware we can all be when speaking in public. Maybe it’s that “cell phone” phenomenon where everyone believes that what they are talking about is important to all in their hearing distance.

      I do applaud you for your restraint. I might have laughed at loud and said, “Really?” if I was sitting next to them. What a conversation opener! Thanks for the comment Bethany. Nice to meet you by the way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s