October 16, 2007

DESPITE OUR VALUES

My Swedish friend was so excited that my husband had organized a birthday surprise. So when I talked to her again last night, I asked what she thought of the surprise trip to the firing range.

She was horrified.

I expected her to think it was weird, or not romantic, but I didn't expect her to react so vehemently. She thought the whole thing was plain awful, and incomprehensible, and that all the commenters were horrifying as well. She even called her sister's American husband to ask him if he knows what the 2nd Amendment is (too cute) and whether he owns a firearm. She was really rattled by this and even started talking about Virginia Tech.

Then she reminded me of something that I hadn't thought of in a long time. When I lived in France, I was walking home late at night one night when a man on a moped drove up onto the sidewalk, pinned me between a van and a wall, and tried to grope me. Needless to say, it was a frightening experience, and for weeks after that, I walked around the city with my Swiss Army knife in my hand. I have no idea what I actually would've done with it if someone else had tried to attack me, but it made me feel a sliver of control over the situation and it helped me get over my fear. What I had forgotten was how crazy my Swedish friend thought I was for walking with a knife. Or at least, I didn't realize just how crazy she thought I was until she brought it up again last night, that thinking about me with a gun brought back memories of me walking the streets with a one and a half inch blade. Apparently something that barely registered in my brain today was seared, seared in hers.

I told my husband about this last night, and he said, "Wait, let me get this straight, she thought you were dangerous and crazy because you wanted to protect yourself from being raped?"

I explained to my friend that while we disagree on lots of issues -- death penalty, health care, etc -- the Gun Issue is so cultural that we typical Americans and Europeans will never begin to understand each other. We can't even talk about the issue because we're coming at it with completely different cultural baggage. She says that guns create violence; I say they deter it. No common ground.

After we got off the phone, I thought for a long time about our conversation. She can't read my blog; it makes her sick to her stomach. She's against everything I stand for, and vice versa. I'm not mad about that: if she had a blog, I wouldn't want to read it either! But I started to think about the fact that we are friends with each other despite our value systems. That we set aside everything we think about the world and everything we believe to be right in order to remain friends.

She thinks blogging is weird, that it's odd I would bare my soul to strangers on the internet. I kinda think it's weird that I've been friends for nine years with someone I have no common ground with.


UPDATE:

Oda Mae is right: This is a friend who would drop everything to take me to a hospital. She even said that she would fly to the US to meet my future baby. She is a good friend. Maybe that's equally important to the equation as our values.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:22 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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1 Sarah, That is strange to me as well. It seems as though the older I get, I am increasingly intolerable of others "with different values". The great thing the internet has afforded me, is the ability to be friends with like minded people. I know longer have to be friends with the lady across the street, because she is available.... I can be a little choosier. I call you friend, and would love to spend the day out shooting with you. BTW, have you introduced your Swedish friend the the world of gun-bloggers? Boy, she might just go crazy if she read Mr. Kim

Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at October 16, 2007 04:43 AM (bpXtT)

2 I've got some liberal friends. We just don't talk about politics...most of the time.

Posted by: tim at October 16, 2007 04:54 AM (nno0f)

3 One of my best friends is extremely liberal. And not only that, but she is also extremely opinionated. It is hard, but I guess I value other parts of our friendship more than her politics. So we just don't talk about it... because I just might strangle her, haha. Not really, but it can be hard to disagree with someone so much that you talk to so much.

Posted by: Kasey at October 16, 2007 05:06 AM (tttDj)

4 Tim, but isn't politics a reflection of your values, and therefore your self? I have spent nine years easily talking to my friend about her boyfriend woes or the big events in life (moving, vacations, etc), but we can't really get deeper than that without clashing. And while we always do it in a respectful and intellectual way -- we don't fight about issues, we discuss -- but it still sometimes seems odd to me. We have completely different definitions of words like responsibility, honor, courage, duty. Doesn't that make for a superficial friendship? I'm just musing here, I don't have the answer. And I am not wanting to cut her out of my life either. I just am struck by how odd this seems to me.

Posted by: Sarah at October 16, 2007 05:09 AM (TWet1)

5 I have superficial friendships in one respect - we can't talk about things that are important to us and agree, like politics. But even though that is the case, I know that if I had to get to the Hospital, or some other crisis where I needed them, they would come. Maybe it's like that for you and this friend - you don't agree on core issues, but her loyalty to you as a friend makes the friendship meaningful, no matter the differences.

Posted by: Oda Mae at October 16, 2007 05:48 AM (6zvrq)

6 I have a couple of friends that sit on the total other side of the road that I do, on most all issues and thoughts. We are friends for reasons other than the things we do not agree on and that is ok. Maybe strange, but still ok in my book. They also think I am totally weird for loving to shoot (that is just one topic where they think I am weird) and the fact that I actually 'allow' guns in my home with children living here. Yes, they are locked in a safe, I am no dummy. But, I.Like.Guns. I was raised with them in my house, they are a hobby in one regard. I learned to use them at an early age for protection and hunting. As will my children. I guess that makes me a redneck, but I will be a redneck forever if that means I can feel safe and keep my guns!! I'll go back to my crazy woman cave now

Posted by: LMT at October 16, 2007 06:58 AM (4VnXA)

7 My Pop had a farm, and there were always guns everywhere when I was growing up. No gun safe, either. Leaning against the wall by the back door, something I would NEVER do. However, with four grandchildren and 8000 other kids tramping through the house constantly, there was never so much as an accidental nicking of someone's carotid artery. Despite that, I spent from my high school graduation in 1992 until 9/11 being vehemently anti-gun, my reasoning was that a gun has no other reason but to kill something, and I wanted no part of that. It's funny how feeling attacked will make you suddenly glad Pop taught you how to handle firearms. I decided that I would NOT be a victim, and I would NEVER be victimized by my own acquiescence. I even have a scary looking dog (who spoons people in his spare time)! I use a great book for teaching my kids American history - it's called The Landmark History of the American People. What I love about it is that it is the perfect supplement to "regular" history books that give the dates and times of major events. It describes the American people and spirit - with insight like describing the fact that the Puritans were certainly pessimists, but they were enthusiastic pessimists. I have to say, I read the book on my own. Anyway, it devotes a considerable amount of time to describing the differences between the American Spirit and the European spirit and why those differences evolved. **sorry for the thesis...

Posted by: airforcewife at October 16, 2007 09:36 AM (emgKQ)

8 Sarah, “Doesn't that make for a superficial friendship?” I suppose your right but is that a bad thing in general? Also, this could easily digress into a debate about semantics and what constitutes a true friend versus someone you just know and how those two things are so individualistically subjective. (For example, I’ve always felt so uncomfortable when someone introduces me as their friend when I’m thinking “Ah, no we're not”). Thinking about it further maybe these friends are not friends in the classic sense, maybe more like acquaintances. The true friends I discuss serious issues and have many of those things you mentioned in common I’ve known for thirty years or more. These friends know me well and know how I feel about things and vice-versa, while being on the same page the majority of the time. Also related and something that fascinates me immensely is how total opposites like James Carville & Mary Matlin can not only be good friends but a loving husband and wife.

Posted by: tim at October 16, 2007 11:04 AM (nno0f)

9 It fascinates me immensely that ANYONE could find James Carville attractive and loveable.

Posted by: airforcewife at October 16, 2007 12:58 PM (emgKQ)

10 "It fascinates me immensely that ANYONE could find James Carville attractive and loveable." LOL

Posted by: tim at October 17, 2007 05:11 AM (nno0f)

11 I think it's cool that you guys can be so open about the fact that you have no common ground, yet find enough reasons to remain friends (beside the fact that she's just so damn adorable).

Posted by: Erin at October 18, 2007 01:31 PM (XRza7)

12 Loyalty, especially when coupled with reliability, can go a long way towards building a friendship. As a born-and-raised New Yorker, joining the Army exposed me to a greater variety of people on intimate terms than any other experience in my life. One of the people I met - in AIT - was someone who, as a stereotype (I'll let you guess which one), I never would have imagined buddying up with. He was incredibly loyal and, despite our differences, I valued his friendship on that basis. I just hope I gave him as much as he gave me. Unfortunately, we lost touch after AIT, as happens often to Army friendships with PCS, but it was a lesson learned about relationships.

Posted by: Eric Chen at October 20, 2007 05:03 PM (7X1rW)

13 A man is trying a very unusual way to propose to his girlfriend. He wants people to forward an email to as many people as possible and he hopes that it will eventually get to his girlfriend. Details here: http://www.proposal-to-mary.com Here is what he wants people to send by email: You could help me a lot to spread my proposal to Mary – it is important that it is distributed as widely as possible so that it eventually reaches Mary. If you would like to support my proposal to Mary, please send the following text by email to a lot of people :-) ------------- SNIP (email text end) --------------- WHEN YOU RECEIVE THIS, PLEASE HELP TO DISTRIBUTE IT TO OTHER PEOPLE! For a long time I have tried to find a special way to propose marriage to my girlfriend Mary, whom I know for five years now. I wanted it very special, romantic and memorable, something our grandchildren would still remember. And here is my idea: I will send out the proposal to Mary to 50 complete strangers, people I don't know - hoping, that they will forward my proposal to as many people as possible, which in turn forward it etc. And some day, I hope, it will reach Mary, after it has travelled a very long way. I know, it will take a long time and I am quite nervous… From the poem MY Mary will know immediately that the proposal is for her. I have created a homepage ( http://www.proposal-to-mary.com ) where you can find the current status of my quest. You can use the homepage to check if the proposal has already reached Mary (in that case it is not necessary anymore to forward the mail). Once the proposal has reached Mary, I will put a note on these pages. Also I will publish there how many people have read the proposal so that everybody can see how far it has spread and that it is getting closer to Mary. And of course you will find there what I am waiting for most: Mary's answer! I can't tell you, how nervous I am… Will she accept my proposal? Will she like the unusual way how she got it, through the hands of thousands of messengers all over the world? Please cross your fingers for me! And please - help me by sending the mail to as many people as possible, to help it spread, so that it eventually reaches Mary. And here is my proposal: Mary, please forgive me, as you know English is not my native language. And I am not a poet. But I mean it from my heart. My angel, Five years ago, I will always remember the day When fate made us meet, blissful Alaskan moments in May Earth spun around us and a journey began Love, warmth, happiness, enough the years to span. The longer it lasts the more grows our bond And with 80 still - of you I will be fond Whatever happens, I will stay at your side Through good and bad, together let us stride No second with you was ever wasted You are the sweetest I have ever tasted We have spent so many years - why not a life? Mary, will you marry me - and become my wife? Mary, if you have received that and have recognized me, then give me a sign so that I can continue with the romantic part of my proposal… ------------- SNIP (email text end) ---------------

Posted by: Vodeicosoge at October 23, 2007 12:45 PM (JKa0R)

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