Monday, June 21, 2010

The toad in the pot and other social challenges . . .

I keep a row of wounded plants that need extra tending on the lip of our garage. This year one of them, a snapdragon whose roots were attacked by a vole, didn't make it. But as I didn't need the pot for another struggling garden resident, I left the dead plant and its pot where it was.

Charlie, however, did need the saucer under it. And when he went to pick it up, a piece of the dirt in the pot blinked.

We Woodroofs run a very live-and-let-live household, at least as far as toads are concerned. Toads are welcome in our pots, anytime. Charlie and I, personally, don't want to live in pots, but if living in our pot floats this particular toad's boat, then who are we to tell a toad it shouldn't be doing that.

Charlie and I try hard to extend that attitude to people, as well, and to carry it beyond our one acre of Rockingham County. But for us, as for everyone else, it's sometimes a challenge to let others be. The trick, I think, is not to let the fact that others' behavior may not be like ours and so may make us uncomfortable, give us permission to believe that it is also wrong.

I was thinking about the toad in the pot this morning as I read about President Obama's Father's Day proclamation; thinking about how we humans do love our rules, our rigid codes, our "morality" -- all those human social concoctions that makes us feel that how we live is right and how those who live differently are wrong. During the proclamation, President Obama noted that:
Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian. 
A presidential Father's Day proclamation is tradition; honoring "two father" families is not. And I cannot think of anything that makes many people in this country more nervous than the idea that such a practice should be considered normal.

The comments on 44, the Washington Post's political blog on the president, were predictably disapproving . . .
Georges 2:  I'll try to make it simple for you. Americans are sick and tired of their traditions and their values being maligned and trampled on. They're sick and tired of people like you trying to change everything from Christmas to Father's Day to Easter. This country was founded by Christians, htruman1, and we're not backing down. . . .
37thand0street   Time for the gays to just STOP PUSHING THEIR AGENDA ON EVERYONE ELSE.
This stuff has to stop.
The leftists are way out of line on this issue.
logicprevails:   What is this idiot who doubles as the Mainstream Media's President up to now?
I did find one post by someone who welcomed the president's reference to gay families . . .
kecooper23:  As a 24 year old lesbian who plans on having children with my partner of 6 years, this was such a great moment for our country. The thing is, whether people like it or not, gay people are in this country, and they have families. Either we can talk about it and try to understand, or we can be totally hush hush about the matter. But no matter what, it is still happening and it is going to keep happening. If you have questions, ask, but please do not judge because you don't know or understand. And for those of you who keep bringing religion into this matter, I appreciate how worried you seem for the GLBT community, but please just worry about yourself. Thank you!
Worrying about ourselves, now there's a real challenge. Why are we humans so eager to judge each other? What the heck do we get out of it?

Charlie says it's a reach to compare human and toad lifestyles, but I'm less sure of this. A useful metaphor is a useful metaphor is a useful metaphor.

I crouch down beside the toad in the pot whenever I wander out into our garage. I look at toad; toad looks at me.  I can't for the life of me see that either one of us needs to spend a second being uncomfortable about the other's ways. . .

1 comment:

  1. Seems like a solid metaphor to me. Thanks for posting it.