Monday, August 07, 2006

Righteousness is Lonely Business

She feels strongly about standing up for her beliefs, and "there are many people who agree with her"...although I have never met any of them. I suppose they are a covert crowd...rarely sharing their candid opinions with anyone who exists outside their small circle.

We were having coffee when she confided in me. She grew up in Small Town, Illinois where she was surrounded by Caucasians. Anyone of a different race was considered to be an outcast, something less. I listened openly as she described her childhood, her heritage, the chain of distrust that she was taught and now carries forward like a badge of honor. She's rude to anyone who's not white, although she's especially vocal about African Americans.

I knew about her feelings, but we moved forward with our friendship, each of us filtering our opinions of one another. We danced around the issue because we enjoyed spending time together. We were two, non-working gals with no kids, plenty of spare time, and a desire to get out and explore the city.

Then there were two incidents in one day, and I finally asked her to Be Quite, to Stop Being Rude. That was the day she called me a Goody-Twoshoes and tried to turn the blame onto me. I was the one who had the problem. I was the one who didn't allow her to be herself.

That was the final moment of division between her and I.

And I know that it's the right thing, to no longer spend time with her. Despite the fun times that we had shared up to that point. The laughter, the shopping, making jewelry together and discovering new restaurants. All dissipated and meaningless...filed under History with no plans for resuscitation.

Because she's a racist, and I am not.

Because she's willing to make rude comments to people, and I am not.

Because she's willing to deny a person a service or sale or friendly transaction because of their race, and I am not.

So we have each planted our poles into the ground, and we both feel righteous in standing up for our principles. She points the finger at me and blames me for our rift. I look at her and feel immense sadness that such a fun and clever person could be so ignorant.

Our only interaction now is to wave Hello if we pass one another on the street. Neighborly niceties that ring hollow and insincere.