Have you ever been minding your own business in public when someone passive-aggressively tries to solicit their own beliefs onto you as if they were doing you a great favor?
Last year at school I had the great misfortune of experiencing something similar. I was walking down a street when someone held their arm out as I passed, and in their hand was a piece of paper. I made the naïve mistake of grabbing this paper, assuming that it was maybe just a coupon.
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Spoiler alert: it wasn’t a coupon. It was a cartoon comic strip about some sort of religion.
I do not remember the exact message of the cartoon, nor do I fully understand what its message was, but it did make me a little uneasy and somewhat insulted.
I realize this experience isn’t a big deal, but for some reason it did not sit right with me. It made me think of pamphlets handed out in places like New York City that put forth their message in a way that seems almost threatening or fear-instilling.
It was not so much this individual that bothered me, but the idea that there are other religious pamphlet mongers. Why do some people feel it necessary to take the time to stand somewhere and distribute these papers to people? Did I miss the memo? Is there a new law or holiday where we get to inform people that their beliefs are wrong?
If I had known I would have brought my pamphlets about our savior, the purple octopus, so everyone could learn about a fantastic alternative religion.
Of course, I am joking about the octopus; however, I still question this way of interacting.
If I had handed this individual a pamphlet selling my own beliefs, or something as ridiculous as the purple octopus, would it not be disregarded as false and absurd?
I have a feeling that I would not change the mind of anyone by trying to present my beliefs in such a way. I realize this instance was not a big deal, and I did forget about it after a couple minutes, but it still makes me wonder.
That was not as difficult as the time I encountered a woman standing outside of Planned Parenthood telling me not to go in because they perform abortions. Well, thanks lady, but I think I can make my own decisions. If you think abortions are wrong, then I imagine you will not get one.
I just hope you do not tell me what to do. Instead of giving this woman a piece of my mind, I merely thanked her and told her to have a nice day.
As I walked away feeling defeated, I thought about all of the things I wanted to say. Who did that woman think she was? I don’t stand outside of grocery stores telling people they shouldn’t go inside because they sell murdered animals. If I did that, I would be crazy, right?
It felt like no matter what I would have done I would have lost in that situation. Not arguing with this woman made me feel defeated. If I had argued, I would have only made myself, and possibly others who share similar views as me, look bad.
It must be nice to see in black and white and never doubt or question your own actions. But then again, do these kinds of people see things so clearly?
Perhaps they are filled with such doubt that they stand outside sharing their beliefs in hopes that someone will agree with them and thus make them feel their beliefs are valid. Perhaps they’re just doing what they think is right and I shouldn’t judge or complain.
Well, I am not here to even say that these people’s views are wrong. I mean, honestly, what do I know? Not much. How can I tell others what to do? Of course I am sure there are times where, in some shape or form, I may have tried to change someone’s mind. I think we are all hypocrites in some ways. But there are levels of extremity to imposing your beliefs onto someone.
Ultimately, if you believe in a certain religion or hold your own political opinion, then that is fine. You are your own person making your own decisions. Just don’t hurt other people and don’t expect anyone to share the same beliefs.
You may not agree with me on this, and from this experience, I do not expect to change your mind.
Kim Christel can be contacted at