Something a little different today.
I woke this morning to the sound of a female voice calling ‘hello? Anybody home?’ from my driveway. Like most unfamiliar visitors, she was not keen to come in the yard past my barking dogs.
I threw on some clothes and went outside to greet two well-dressed older ladies. Jehovah’s Witnesses, I assumed.
I was right. And I know many people are rolling their eyes right now, but ever since I was visited by a Jehovah’s Witness who was also a former workmate and friend, I have cheerfully greeted every one of their denomination who has made the trek out to my house, up my long, bumpy driveway, to spread their message. Jehovah’s Witnesses are people, after all.
Today I met Colleen and Mary. Their message was about family. In particular, that in order to have a happy family a man should treat his wife with respect, and with the same care that he would treat his own body.
I listened and agreed. While their particular message was rather heteronormative, I am all for anyone who spreads the word that men should treat women with care and respect. While all violence and abuse is abhorrent, violence perpetrated by men against women, especially within relationships, is a huge majority and a topic that deserves to be addressed.
I know that many people are annoyed by Jehovah’s Witnesses and their door-knocking of a Saturday morning. Thanks to my former workmate Kaylene, I understand that this spreading of their message is an important part of their beliefs. They don’t do it to annoy people, but to share their religion and the message of love that comes from their bible.
How could I possibly be annoyed by well-dressed visitors who bring a message of love and respect to my front door? How could anybody?
Mary asked me what I believed. I told her my beliefs are somewhat alternative, but that I think all religions have good points and that I am willing to listen to anyone who takes the trouble to come to my door with a message of love from their particular church. She told me that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in one true God and one book, and they object to the name Jehovah being removed from the Christian bible.
I have friends who are vocal Atheists and who would probably never enter a discussion with Jehovah’s Witnesses in their front yard. This is a much maligned but peaceful religion whose messages centre on family, and love and respect within families, as well as peace on Earth. I have not had many of them make the trek to my front door in the past 12 years, but their messages have always been positive.
Each person’s beliefs are as valid as yours or mine. As long as they are not preaching hate, or telling me that my beliefs are wrong, I am happy to listen to what they have to say. Religious beliefs, or the lack thereof, are incredibly personal and can change from one day to the next with the ebb and flow of life. I discuss religion openly with my children, and their ever-changing and evolving beliefs are fascinating to follow. That I have given them the freedom to develop their own beliefs is a point of pride for me.
We all want the same things. To be happy, to feel safe. To be respected and loved. I believe that there is no ‘one true God’ but rather a thousand different interpretations of a universal truth. How can I condemn a religion that shares any of my beliefs, as long as the prevailing attitudes are tolerance and love? How can anyone?
I consider those who use their god’s words to preach hate and dominance to be reprehensible. Especially any belief system that values virginity and devalues women. I expect to be allowed to believe what I want to believe, as long as I am not hurting anyone. And I offer the same tolerance in return.