Our conversation meanders quite a bit, touching on Jane’s life history and health issues, the history of the neighbourhood, and raccoons and bedbugs. We don’t have much in common. She’s almost twice my age, uses a cane, and is living in a transition house after a period of homelessness. We do both love cats. Jane makes some vaguely racists comments and says some things about mental illness that I’m not comfortable with. I steer the conversation in other directions and we talk about how beautiful maine coons are.
Maybe the right thing to do would have been to confront her prejudiced comments, but I don’t know this woman. If it had been someone I loved, I would have opened up a discussion to figure out what they meant and see if I could show them why the comments were inappropriate, but I have no investment in this stranger. In that moment, it isn’t worth the fight to try to change her mind.* I will probably never see her again, she has very little power to do anything with her prejudices, and I don’t care enough about her to be concerned about her karma, spirit, or soul.**
I recently stopped attending a Pagan event I used to be highly involved in. Since making the decision to completely give it up, I have been having a long debate with myself about whether or not I should tell the organizers why. The truth is, the event has been going in a direction I’m uncomfortable with for quite awhile, and I hung on and kept attending, and donating time, energy, and money, in the hopes that I could help steer it back to what I used to love. But as it drifted further down a different path, my efforts lessened until I was no longer really trying to do anything. It happened slowly, almost subconsciously, and it was only after this conversation with Jane that I realized the important truth: I no longer love this event enough to fight for it. I just don’t care enough anymore to deal with the discomfort of being a dissenting voice, even from the distance of telling those in charge why I won’t be there. It isn’t “my event” anymore; it belongs to a different group who appreciate and love the new direction. As much as I grieve for the event that was, that event doesn’t exist anymore***, and what has replaced it is a bit of a stranger to me. And as much as I might wish a stranger well, in the end, I don’t love them enough to fight with them over their soul.
* Of course, my white privilege is one of the things that allows me to avoid this confrontation.
** Or however you might conceptualize the harm done to a person by their own poisonous thoughts and negativity.
*** If it ever did; the power of nostalgia…