To hell with faking it. Hell is the place for lies. If you’re a Muslim and you want to greet me with “As-Salam-u-Alaikum,” please do. If you’re an Atheist and you refuse to say Christmas and want to say happy holidays instead, I get why that makes sense to you and I welcome it and I appreciate that you would wish me happy anything at a time when so many people are just thinking about themselves. Thank you. If you’re Hindu and you want to say “Lakshmi bless me,” I thank you for doing your best to show me kindness, knowing that to you it’s a sincere effort to better my life. I am not afraid of that. I don’t snicker at you for it. I don’t demand you pretend that what may be the most important thing in your life doesn’t exist when you’re around me.
I do this because one of my core goals is to love you. Does that mean I think your beliefs are right? No. Do I think mine are right. Yes. Do I think we can all just believe whatever and everything will work out in the end? No. I think relativism is silly and inconsistent. I think one of us is right and the rest are in trouble. Do I want you to ask me about Jesus Christ and why his love changes everything and how if we accept and follow him we will be adopted into his family? Yes. Do I think there is another way to heaven. No.
But I also don’t believe that you disagreeing with me means you hate me. If you want to cause harm to me directly or indirectly I think that’s bad. Please don’t do that. But even if my black is your white, please hang out with me. Don’t become a fake and hide the parts of yourself that are most dear to you because “wonderful me” is there. I (hope I) don’t look down on you because you treasure a conviction that is opposed to mine. Nor do I think our culture benefits when you are publicly barred from voicing your disagreement with me and you’re forced to keep secret what you find most gorgeous about life.
So please tell me what you think is beautiful about your kids, your diet, your work, your moral code, and your god (which may be one or all or none of those). Even though I am probably not excited about any of them on their own, if you’re excited about them, please talk about them. Tell me. I care about you so I will learn to care about them, or at least care about how you feel about them. Even if we’re strangers. I will try to get to know and understand your mind, heart, and spirit even though I think I’m right and you’re wrong.
And sometimes I’ll probably be bad at it. Please forgive me for that. When things are outside my comfort zone I get nervous and lash out sometimes. I hate that about me and it’s embarrassing. And sometimes I straight up avoid people who seem radically different. Please be patient with me. Or don’t. Don’t tolerate me if your code in life says not to. It’s hard for me, but I accept that too because part of love is refusing to exile and condemn people who don’t know how to show love yet.
Valuing something means we don’t suppress and shame it, so let’s stop pretending we value and include everyone when what we really mean is “You need to be a fraud in public. Act like us when you can be observed.” Forget that garbage. Be real. I ask that you show warmth when you do it but we can disagree and openly admit we do. That’s called living in reality. A society that forces huge portions of its masses to suppress their highest joy when they cross paths is deeply broken. That is not tolerant. That is not love. That is bullying people who disagree into silence.
Don’t do that. But if you do, you can still be my friend.