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Life as performance art

Life as performance art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy as a cause for withdrawing from a friend,” said Thomas Jefferson.

Just because you may think the world is flat, the sun and stars revolve around earth or hold some other idea, no matter how eccentric, doesn’t mean I would want to break off a friendship with you.

If someone belongs to a different religion or is a devout, born-again atheist, we can remain friends even if we do not agree.

The Canadian Forces mess halls had a firm rule: No discussion about politics, religion or sex. It made sense. Those topics were controversial and could lead to an altercation that wasn’t good for morale. Sometimes we need to step back and keep quiet, or we end up with real problems.

Several hundred years ago a religious civil war broke out in Russia over whether the clergy should use two or three fingers on their right hand to give the blessing or benediction. The “Old Believers” (those of the three-finger persuasion) fought the “Two Finger Mob” but eventually decided it would be safer to move east to Siberia and the Ural Mountains.

Sometimes social media devolves into a collection of venom-spitting vipers. Someone says, writes or tweets something that incites someone else, who responds in kind, then everyone else feels duty-bound to join in. Before long people are parting company with long-time friends over differing opinions about politics, religion and philosophy.

I am getting to an age where I’m going to too many funerals. The list of departed classmates keeps getting longer with each new edition of the alumni magazine.

I don’t have time to apply litmus tests to friendships. The only value of purity standards I can see is they will reduce the cost of your funeral reception — but then, you aren’t the one paying for the ham buns and potato salad, are you?

I’m not parting ways with social media, just the endless prattle of individuals taking pot shots at anyone who dares to hold an opinion contrary to their own. It has its place for important announcements, upcoming local events and news.

I want to see the latest works of our artists, read the good news and accomplishments of one another. Those sorts of things build a community. As for twittering and tweeting, the only type I want comes from songbirds.