Coming To Terms With "what People Can Give."

I am not sure this is particularly where this experience should fall under but I figured that this "understanding" I have come to would count as a mind-opening experience so - anyhow - here goes. (AS A NOTE: after writing this I would be proud of anyone who could follow is kinda disjointed and in a stream of consciousness flow - still trying to figure out how to respond.)

I recently received one of those delightful chain letters, from my dad, which was one of those heartwarming "no muslim could ever be a good american" (whatever the hell that even means) filled with the love and wisdom our world needs. (hopefully people can sense the immense level of sarcasm here). I sent an email back to him which countered the points presented and broke it down into the empty, shallow, bigoted, groundless *expletive expletive* that it was. Yet, as something that i wasn't completely unprepared for, was that despite my points, which were never covered in his responses, he still maintains support of such a view albeit perhaps lessened.....? And of course he isn't alone.

To me, what made this even more of a perplexing experience, was the fact that he used to be incredibly bigoted towards gays and lesbians until he realized that his own son was (arrow pointing at self). I presented him with the fact that the logic he presented against lgbt then was the same groundless logic being used at that moment of chain-letter bigotry. He since has no issue with lgbt but at the same time has merely directed this aggression elsewhere.

So moving into what I began this "experience" message. I recently had a discussion with my mom, an out of this word woman (whom he divorced a long time ago) who always has such insightful words of wisdom. I was trying to come to terms with how it is I am supposed to deal with him in person whenever it is I go back home. To me I don't wish to be around such corrupting influences because, being a vocal person, it would lead to a less than pleasurable experience overall for everyone. My conflict came about even moreso because over the years I have been trying to hard to present the information needed to help him reassess his views and come to more positive views of the world. And he has made a lot of progress over the years yet to see him forward and support such a chain letter made me feel like ten steps backwards had been taken. I don't want to have an even more alienated experience with him that I have already had over effectively my whole life.

So I spoke with my mom about this and she told me something along the lines of the following:
Some people are never going to be able to give the amount of love, sensitivity, and understanding that I would love to see from them. Some people simply do not have that to offer, at least on such a level that it is that I hope for. We can always keep the door open, hope that they will one day see the error of their ways, but there will be some people that we cannot hope to receive that from because some people...simply can't give it. They don't understand what it is they are even supposed to give.

That last line got me thinking a lot. It got me to thinking about a lot of what I have come to expect from people over the years, how much I may have been in conflict with some people because I knew they could be better and was always trying to push them into this direction. For the casual reader, what I mean by "what i expect" isn't much...I'm specifically talking about bigotry of all kinds, any blanket hatred one person directs towards another. I am not talking about "I expect you to *insert trivial items here*."

In conclusion...more or less.....I have been trying to find a new way to approach him. In taking what my mom said...I am going to try and focus on what it is he CAN offer....something which I have never divided into a "can and can't do" category. I have never once thought to look and see if I was projecting what I can do, onto him. I won't any any way accept those views which are based out of hate and not love, but perhaps in trying to figure out what it is that he CAN offer to the world and support those.

I guess I was trying to catapult him across a chasm when he needs to build a bridge on board at a time. I will try and keep this in focus as I deal with other people....perhaps in doing so I will figure out more of where someone is in their life and what it is they are truly capable of offering at their particular place in their lives. I know in the end HE is the one who has to change...but I know I can help.

Anyhow...this got kinda long....

Just rambling about some things going on in my head.

lightsworn lightsworn
22-25, M
2 Responses Jul 25, 2010

Your story applied to me in so many ways. My dad was very bigoted for a long time. Once he knew I was gay, I felt he was so filled with hate toward me. Part of it was fear I think. He married my mom since she was pregnant with me and this led him to make the statement that "his life was a crock". I took this as he regretted marrying her since I was gay. for a couple of years he said awe full statements to me about being gay. I never attacked him. To this day I have never said anything I need to apologize for. I have only said things like, "you have the right to your opinions, or I do not see it that way" <br />
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At one point he was saying something really horrible to me on the phone and I just looked at the phone and realized that that was my phone and I pay the bill. So I hung up the phone. We did not talk for 2 years. <br />
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Finally after 2 years he started calling me, urged from my mother, I was very nice and our talks were very superficial at the time. Then at some point he was just nice as he could be to me and even made my partner feel welcomed around him when they came to visit us. I do not even know what changed in him. maybe age or some sort of understanding. I am not sure., My mother even asked me if he said anything to me about how he is now and I said NO, and I dont plan to ask. I would like to know on some level, if he has come to this way of being from a place of love and acceptance, But if it is not that way, I don't want to know. <br />
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Only advice I have for you is give it time. He may get there and he may not. Just don't loose yourself, Show love and respect, but no one has the right to make you feel bad.

You know...there is really only one way to help your Dad change his thought process. Do it in the same way you helped him open his mind to the gay issue. It's not an easy task since there's a good deal of work involved. I would try to introduce him to some Muslim friend who has an amazing personality and a kind heart and prove to him that no one thought process blankets everyone in every catagory. <br />
Do yourself a favor. If you can't help him to change, love him in spite of his intolerances and lack of education. He's your Dad and he will not be here for you forever. I'm sure he has redeeming qualities as well. He has a great son like you right?