Last Saturday I hung out with a friend and we suburb hopped around Sydney. As we walked down a dirty, obscure street in Surry Hills, we passed a group of people on the sidewalk. Mostly men with one older lady, different shapes, sizes and ages, some standing; some sitting down on a shop front ledge or milk crates. They all had their heads bowed and were doing a constant muttering. I saw a bible and a sign “Prayer to end abortion”.
I was upset. Angry. Frustrated. Sickened. My reaction was to judge them and think what they were doing was wrong. Over the remainder of the weekend, I kept thinking about this group of complete strangers and all of the initial feelings kept swelling up. Someone recently said to me that whenever someone has a different belief to you, they too think they are right. I thought if I researched it, maybe I could have empathy and awareness of where they were coming from and this would help me calm down. I searched the slogan and found it attached to the Priests for Life movement in America.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I didn’t feel any better. I had perused the Priests for Life website and walked away from it wondering if I was the only one who could see gaping flaws in their ideologies. I felt mad that this movement disregarded my freedom to choose what happens with my body or my life. Then it got to Thursday. On Thursday I remembered a time in my life when I had believed in something that was not quite logical. I had pushed it onto my family, friends and the general population because with great fervour, I had believed it was the right thing for myself and humanity.
I still don’t agree with the movements beliefs and actions but I don’t feel intently irate with them either. There has been and there will be so many opportunities for me to be exposed to a conflicting belief from someone else. I feel like I have to figure out how to handle these moments calmly because it gets exhausting reacting emotionally to every single one.
Another day and another lesson learned while living life. It doesn’t stop me imagining myself hunting them down, grabbing their placard and snapping it over my thigh in one fell swoop. Satisfying for me but they would probably rejoice in the suffering they endured for their cause.