It happens all the time. Think about a time when you asked a friend to do something that they really did not want to do. Say, for example, that you were heading to a poetry reading and your friend is an engineer. “Hey,” you’d say, “You wanna come listen to Dorianne Laux with me?”
First, they don’t. Second, it is doubtful that they will tell you that straight off. “Errrrgh….” they would say, their face contorting into a comically exaggerated grimace. “Sorry, I’ve got homework,” or “a meeting,” or literally anything else other than that. Is it so hard to just say no to such things?
An example that will hit closer to our guilt centers, (where all of our grandmothers sit, perpetually sewing awful sweaters that we will all have to wear), is a volunteer fair, or the booths in Walker. How many times will we walk straight past people who ask us if we want to work for Camp War Eagle? Or volunteer for the Pregnancy Center? Avoid eye contact is my advice. If you make eye contact, social contract kicks in and you have to hear their spiel.
“Are you interested in working with Camp War Eagle?” someone might ask, and then we will say something about how we may be, but we are not really sure.
Yes we are. In truth, we never really had any intention from the beginning to fill out an application or hear them talk about how we could help. We walk up, grab a brochure and step away for the sake of being polite. I would argue that this behavior, this false interest, is actually more frustrating than just saying “no.”
I will be honest: I am not interested in working at the Pregnancy Center. I am not interested in being a camp counselor. Does that make me a bad person? Absolutely not. It just means that my passion is in a different area. If my heart is not in the middle of the issue, if my blood and bones are not given to the matter, what am I really doing to help? I’d argue that I’d just be in the way. I’d argue that I was taking the place of someone far more interested in the matter.
Let’s not mince words, please. Please. There is no point in feigning interest in a cause when our hearts are not in it. Furthermore, there is no guilt in admitting that a cause does not interest you. Tell me this: were we all made with the same heart? Are you as interested in poetry as I am? Am I as interested in mathematics as you? What, then, is the point in pretending we are committed to these things if we are not?
Our passions are central: our passions push us to our goals and all passions are different. So let’s be honest, let’s commit to what is in our hearts, just as no member of the body is the same, neither is every person. As Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Say what you feel and think because at the end of things, the truth WILL work its way to the surface. Even more important, “the truth will set you free.”
Cross-Meredith is a sophomore majoring in English. He can be reached at Cross-MeredithS@jbu.edu