We naturally want to help people make good choices. Especially if those people are family or close friends, but beware of what I call pie advice.
Heavily invested in our opinions, we tend to serve up well-meaning advice with such fervor that recipients feel as if we are shoving a pie in their face. True, it is a pie and maybe if they could step back and get a look at the thing, they might even be tempted to taste it. But even if the pie is their favorite kind topped off with whip cream or intricate lattice-work baked to a perfect golden brown, no one wants it shoved in their face. That will always result in them backing away from you. It’s just instinct.
Facebook pages have become littered with opposing views shoved in each other’s face. One friend went so far as to post that anyone voting for a particular party should please unfriend her. I so resented her pie in my face that I was tempted to do what she asked, despite the fact we shared the same political views; despite the fact I really, really, like her and enjoy her company. It was the pie advice that got me.
Another Facebook friend/distant relative posted weekly about how immigrants needed to become “Canadian” and shouldn’t be allowed to retain their way of dressing after coming to our country. Every time I saw one of his posts my blood pressure sky rocketed and I could barely breathe. I did not like his pie. I did not like it at all. I whipped up batch after batch of reciprocating pies in my head, filled with hot, bubbling logic to counter his ignorance. With the exception of the First Nation people all of us were immigrants. Did he not dress like a European? How could he be so small-minded?
And then…I remembered to breathe. I wiped the whip cream out of my eyes, pushed back from the table and contemplated the pies set before me. All three – my friend’s, my relative’s and my own – had fear as its main ingredient. Fear is always just a nibble away from hate. Someone wisely said what we don’t understand we fear and what we fear we tend to despise.
My friend had an image of Canada that she held dear and feared anyone who might harm it. So did this relative. So did I. What is war but a bunch of people shoving their fear-fueled ideas into one another’s face? We are all so certain that our views are the right ones. Our views are the ones that will keep us safe. Never mind that statistics suggest North Americans are most likely to die on Christmas Day at the hands of someone they know. No doubt, while shoving pie in each other’s face.
Giving each other space, room to breathe and at most gently setting out our pie as an offering instead of slapping it in another’s face could save a lot of hard feelings. Who knows? It could even lead to World Peace.
When I think about the people who have most influenced me, none of them were pie pushers. Instead they simply appeared, like a pie in a glass bakery case. I was left to notice them, to be intrigued, to ask questions. To point and say, I think I might like a slice of that. Could you please tell me what is in it?
We are all in this beautiful mess together. We are only divided by our thoughts. We have all come from the same place and to that same place we will all return. Together. Each one of us an ingredient in one amazing, cosmic pie.