You never know how a conversation will reverberate, or what shape its echoes will take if they return to you.
Late one night this spring, a reader sent me an email. A few hours earlier, she had been at one of my book discussions.
In her email, she explained that she had grown up with a negative view of hunting. But as she read the book—and as she listened that evening, both to me and to a lifelong hunter who spoke from the heart—her perspective began to shift.
Driving home after the discussion, she had a thought:
After seeing you speak in person and hearing you talk about your uncle and reading about him in the book, the analogy I thought of on the way home was of someone who has never spent much time with a gay person and thinks there is something wrong with that way of life.
Then they meet and talk with a compassionate, considerate, thoughtful gay person whom they can relate to on many levels and realize their preconceptions were unnecessarily narrow. . . .
I think it’s always good to have one’s mind broadened.
I doubt this parallel would have occurred to me. Sexual orientation and hunting are such radically different topics. I can think of all kinds of contrasts between the moral objections raised against homosexuality and the moral objections raised against hunting. Once the parallel was drawn for me, though, I recognized that the basic point was on the mark.
Prejudice is prejudice. It is made up of preconceptions which are, as she put it, “unnecessarily narrow.” And it tends to collapse when challenged by a meaningful encounter with a thoughtful, three-dimensional human being.
So my thanks go out to this reader, for showing me something I had not seen before, and simply for taking the time to write. For this author, heartfelt words like hers are the greatest reward.
© 2012 Tovar Cerulli