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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'd Like to Be a Better Friend -- Like Chesterton

One of the things I admire most about G.K. Chesterton is his incredible gift for friendship. It's a testimony to his love for his fellow man that he could be friends with people with whom he disagreed 180 degrees even on moral values. I don't have that gift and can't even imagine doing it!

I remember as a young mom with a toddler and a new baby playing bridge with casual friends. I met the wife at a government training course we both attended. We had gotten together at each others' homes several times for dinner and bridge, but never talked about anything serious, just chitchat. We happened to go out together the week of Roe v. Wade. What a week! I was devastated by the decision! I remember crying over the fact that I lived in a country where it was legal to kill babies. Our little daughter was two and a half and our new little son was six months old. The babies being murdered were no different than my own little ones. How could anyone kill them? Well, in the course of the evening with our friends, Roe v. Wade came up and this couple extolled the brilliance of the decision. I felt physically nauseated by the conversation and went home saying to Larry, "I never want to see them again." Perhaps they felt the same way. They never called us and we never called them.

I should have been prepared for their attitude. They had told us one evening they didn't want any children. She had her career to think of and they liked to do things like ski. I've never seen anyone ski with a baby on board. But I was still in shock by their attitude. At 25 I couldn't imagine anyone believing killing babies was a "solution" to a problem.

Perhaps it's not surprising that a young mom nursing an infant would find it difficult to hobknob with people who believe it's okay to kill babies. But I wonder sometimes whether Larry and I could have had an influence on that couple. How many similar opportunities have I missed? If I were a better Christian and friend, one who truly loved others and tried to see them as God does, perhaps things would have been different. Would there have been opportunities to "debate" in the classical sense, to raise Socratic questions about the nature of life? I'm not sure I could have done it then. (I'm not sure I could do it now for that matter.) I was in too much pain over child-killing and I saw them as part of the pro-death culture. Beliefs have consequences after all. But would things have been different if I loved them enough to be a faithful friend?

In the end, love is action and the most loving thing we can do for others is to pray for them and witness as we can. So even now, 40 years after that friendship ended, I can still pray for that couple and hope they came or will come to see the wonder of creation especially babies waiting to be born, the visible reminder of the Lord's Incarnation.

I think I'll pray to Chesterton for his intercession that I might be, like him, an apostle of common sense and also a true friend to everyone I meet, especially those committed to evil. After all, they need true friends the most and many of them are blind, not malicious. As Chesterton said of Shaw, "The truth is, of course, that Mr. Shaw is cruelly hampered by the fact that he cannot tell any lie unless he thinks it is the truth." One could certainly say that about many people in today's crazy world!


Anonymous said...

I, for the most part, cannot abide the company of those whose mis-guided values include the murder of the inconvenient. I do have a golfing buddy of this ilk, and at daily Mass, I put him "in the cup" praying for his conversion...he's a "fallen away" Catholic

teresamarie said...

thanks for your honesty. I too have shunned people who are not faithful Catholics. So many seem to be pro sodomy and pro abortion. But I am realizing that I must quit shunning. If conversion will take place, it is because of love. Norma Rae was converted because of love.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I guess prayer is the beginning of change, especially for ourselves. I need to really practice the Sermon on the Mount: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...."