I mentioned a few posts ago that we are making new friends. It’s not that we didn’t make friends when we first moved, because we did, but it takes some time to get to know people and figure out how much you have in common, and to borrow a phrase, if there is “any there there.”
One of the things that has been interesting is to see how people slowly develop as we get to know them, one little bit at a time, and to see how their stories change. I think we all tend to give people the short and simple version when we meet them, whether that means a brief overview of our jobs or whatever, and as we start to learn more details, I think that can sometimes change (or at least clarify) our first impressions.
I’ve noticed this especially when it comes to politics, maybe because that’s something that has been such a popular topic of discussion lately, and maybe because it’s something I care about. Most people, when you first get to know them, say something that indicates they are somewhere in the middle, and their statements are as vague as possible. These are the same people I later find out fundraise for Planned Parenthood or attend rallies for the NRA (not really, but you get the idea).
By the way, if this sounds at all judgmental, that is not how I mean it at all. I do exactly the same thing. I’ve learned over the years that it’s just not worth discussing politics with acquaintances unless there is some special circumstance that provides a rare opportunity to learn or engage in a meaningful way. I try very hard to do this in an honest and authentic way, but sometimes it’s just easiest to smile politely and back away slowly.
I’ve also noticed the same phenomenon, or as I like to call it, “common sense observation,” when it comes to religion. Especially for Catholics. Our Jewish friends are happy to discuss their religion and how observant they are or are not, usually with some kind of a joke about guilt. We don’t really have close Protestant friends, but they seem to be extremely eager to share their faith and beliefs (like it or not). These are overgeneralizations based on my own experiences, of course, and not meant to be offensive in any way.
Catholic friends are different. It takes a while to find out whether they are practicing and to what extent. I think people tend to believe all Catholics believe the same thing and follow the same rules, but that’s not really true, and for a lot of us, what we believe and how we practice changes over time.
I was thinking about it because of course we are more protective of some information, and it’s interesting that we would be protective of our religion in that way. What is it about being Catholic that makes us feel like we have to keep our beliefs and how we practice to ourselves? Is it related to guilt? A fear of judgment? The fact that our answer will either make us seem like zealots or heretics depending on the audience?
Again, this isn’t about judgment, I do it too. I would like to understand why I do it, and why other people do it, and what it means.
I will say that once we get over the initial stage of learning about each other and have real conversations, it’s nice to be open about those things.