What Do You Do with Bigoted and Blinkered Friends?
Dear Margo: My good friend “Linda” is a racist. Her granddaughter confided in her mother that she had feelings for an African-American boy. The mother found out that her daughter had two girlfriends who were dating African-American boys. Here’s what was said that put the “racist” stamp on my friend: “I ordered my daughter to instruct my granddaughter to sever the relationship with the two girls who are dating black boys.”
My jaw dropped. I didn’t know what to say. They are making “rules” for her selection of boys, which include: He must be white, he must be a Christian, and he must not be more than one or two years older. I’m pretty sure the young woman is going to rebel. My bigger problem, though, is that I don’t want to lose her friendship, but by the same token, I’m not a racist. I’m actually very liberal. After all, I am gay. –Fan in South Carolina
Dear Fan: Some people would find it difficult to maintain a friendship with someone whose basic values are so different from their own. Only you would know if you are one of those people. On the other hand, I have a few close friends who I regard as right-wing nuts, but … politics is an entirely different issue than racism.
Because this discovery is new to you (not sure how it never came up before, especially living in the South), give it some time and observe your response to Linda, knowing what you now know. The importance of principle might figure into this equation. Do you profoundly care about the issue, or is it just something you disagree with? In any case, it would be useful to tell your friend what is wrong with her position — though I doubt you will change her mind. Such prejudices are often deeply ingrained. Do remind her that it strikes you as narrow and un-Christian, in the extreme, to ban an entire group of people from your life based on the color of their skin. –Margo, constructively
What To Do When People Are Never On Time
Dear Margo: I have a question about people who are regularly late. If someone is late (and I wait between 10 and 25 minutes, depending on the situation), I simply go without them, take my kids wherever they need to go or whatever. I never mention it to the late person, except to call and say I am leaving (as in the case of a carpool).
For some reason, these late people get upset and tell me their “feelings were hurt” because I went ahead and did whatever it was. I’m tired of it. How about my feelings? I have to take time out of my day that I wasn’t planning on. What I usually say is, “You were late. I managed on my own.” But when I do say that, they get all defensive and tell me I have hurt their feelings. The only thing that comes to mind is “get over yourself.” Is there anything that can be said that isn’t “be on time and we won’t have this problem”? I’m at a loss. –Late-Averse
Dear Late: My mother had a saying I use to this day: “He who is prompt is lonesome.”
Punctuality is, alas, not highly valued by many people. However, I have never heard of the tardy person having hurt feelings when told someone just could not wait for them. I would suggest you take note of the people who are habitually late and not make plans with them because you can’t count on them. I see nothing wrong with, “You were late. I managed on my own.” If you’re feeling frisky, you could hum Randy Newman’s “Short People,” substituting the word “late” for “short.” –Margo, punctually
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to email@example.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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