Seriously, Mary is my favorite person in this whole world. Apart from Daniel, of course. But really. I keep expecting her to show some terribly flawed side of her; is that cynical of me? But as an idealist and perfecionist by nature, I tend to have too high of expectations thus I am wary of someone I like as much as her. But no, every day I meet with her, talk with her, etc. She continues to astound me.
Mary recently was hired on for a new position. She is an activist at heart so she joined a healthcare reform campaign. I invited her over for some tea at my new house and we talked about it. I have tremendous respect for her. She is the epidomy of open-mindedness and acceptance. I don't know how such a strong woman with such strong convinctions can be so laid back, open and friendly. She genuinely seeks to understand. She tells me little tidbits and lessons that she has taught her children over the years and I marvel at her wisdom. She truly encourages them, and others around her, to be free thinking and independent. She is not like most people I know.
One of the things she is doing for her campaign, which is very grassroots, is to have house discussions on it and slowly spread the word, to write letters to editors, represenatives, senators, etc. To grow a movement toward healthcare. She asked if I would ever want to hold a house discussion, invite some of my closest friends, and have an open and honest talk on healthcare.
I laughed a little and explained that I have a strange assortment of friends, from the very conservative to the very liberal and the most opinionated and active ones of them all are libertarians, some who do not believe the government should fund or be a part of education, let alone healthcare. Her eyebrow raised slightly and she said, "Really?" Not as in shock or dismay (which you would really expect from a strong liberal as herself) but as in genuine interest, "Wow, I would really like to talk to them to understand where they're coming from. I tend to approach issues in a liberal way and want people who think differently than myself to explain themselves to me so I can understand"
And she means it. She is a good listener and does strive to understand. She's persuasive by nature, and perhaps on purpose, but not in a way that it's her sole goal. She believes strongly that people should be educated and come to conclusions on their own. She thinks action can be done by people finding their common agreements and working together regardless of their disagreements. It's a refreshing viewpoint in politics where so many politicians drive a wedge.
I am not as reserved as she is. I would like to think that I am open minded and willing to hear all sides. In many ways I am.. I do strive to understand, but I am nothing like her. If I find that people do not believe in equal civil rights for all (whether they descriminate by race or sexual orientation or gender) I tend to feel outraged at their lack of civility. Though Mary believes in civil rights as much as I do, she would be the type to sit down and really listen to why someone wouldn't want to have equal rights. She would strive to understand. Then she would strive to find the similarities and work from there. She's the type that gets the right action done. She's the type that genuinely lives by the motto that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, even when the fly is skating on morally unsound ground. It's sound to them. Though I believe this, she acts it, which is amazing.
Mary confessed that her true desire would to someday own a business, even if she's an activist at heart. We were just talking about the lack of decent tea shops in the area, so she thought she could venture into a tea shop! I told her that I could see that, with plenty of room to have roundtable discussions on politics, the arts, science, etc. We decided it should be called Tea & Talk. How cute. Isn't she lovely?
I am so glad that Mary is in my life. She is the mentor I have always wanted. I want to take life lessons from her. I want to know how she raised her children to be so conscientious, intelligent, caring and responsive individuals because I desire that with my own children.
It seems so glib to say that I want children who are free-thinking and open-minded. What does that <i>mean</i> anyway. It seems like a catchphrase. But what I mean is that they are open, like Mary. Where they hold strong convictions, but they base those convinctions on their morals of equality and compassion for humankind. Yet, despite or because of their strong convinctions, they constantly seek out opportunities to grow, change and learn more by facing those that oppose them. Not by arguing, debating or fighting, but by sitting down with a cup of tea and saying, "What do you believe and <i>why</i>? Explain it to me so I understand." and bridge that connection. I want to instill a sense of community and civic engagement in my children.
Granted, I do not have children, so who knows what will happen once I see their darling little faces, my heart will surely change, but these are my values and these are what I want to see in the world. I believe that change can and does happen. I believe that these underlying values, principles and philosophy that is important for people to share regardless of where they stand on certain issues. Mary and I could disagree on the world (we don't) and still be friends and respect each other and that's what I love about her. She is inspiring to me. More than most anyone I have ever met. She has a way of showing me what's really me and what's good about me, what I love and what I am passionate about.
I like activism quite a lot. I like being involved. I like social justice. I like civic engagement. I like building a sense of community instead of living in disjointed houses next to each other. I want to hear opposing viewpoints. I don't want to become a like-minded America (the notion where people who think alike, live in the same communities and thus only become more extreme in their values instead of taking a hard look at what they stand for).
For anyone who doubts I am INFJ, you just need to undrstand that this is at the heart of who I am. The protector. The champion of the underdog. I have to be fighting for a cause or doing what I believe. I can't really explain it other than it just drives me. It's the core of who I am to try and do what's right, to seek understanding and go from there.
I want those skills that Mary oozes from her pores. I want to be able to have a discussion on something I believe in strongly without isolating those around me. I am trying. I am working at it.
It's funny.. next week I will be in Washington DC. It's a good time, because I have never felt more proud of being an American citizen. I admit, growing up, I was one to easily bash America and it's quick, easy and cheap mentality. We are a fast food society. Blah. But now I see all that is wonderful about America. I am not a fan of big government by philosophy, but I love government, I really do. I love that we have a government of the people for the people. I think it is beautiful that every of-age citizen can help choose the policies that take place.
I have been reading The Federalist Papers recently where the founding fathers really hammered out their ideas on the Constitution. It was a shaky time in America. We could have gone in a hundred different directions, but instead, those intellectual men met together to determine the fate of who we are and shaped our country. I am thankful they went in a direction where my vote and my voice matters. Sure, there are flaws. Lots of them. And I will continue to fight to erradicate the flaws, but I am proud of what we have. Not because the guy I voted for won the presidency (in fact, this has always been the case) but because of our rich history of giving the power to the people.
<i>Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.</i>