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And I [didn’t yet] say …’

Katherine Khorey | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

“I got an email from Euphemia,” I mentioned, on an afternoon when I was giving my mother the twelfth-grade society report. Euphemia was a friend from church. Once upon at time, she’d been a Baptist, and until now she’d been homeschooled.

“How is she?” Mum said. Now Euphemia was spending a year with relatives out west, and attending public school for the first time.

“She’s doing okay, but she says that every time she starts to make friends with someone, it turns out they either smoke or do drugs.”

Mum pulled out an old favorite for summing up a reaction. “And you said, ‘Welcome to the world, Euphemia!'”

“Exactly.” I sipped my tea. It was understood, though, that in that context “And you said …” meant, “And you really wanted to say, but knew better…”

So of course I hadn’t actually welcomed Euphemia to the big, bad, nicotine-and-munchies ridden world of public high school. If I even sent her a response, it probably only said, “That stinks, Euphemia. I’m so sorry. Hang in there! : )”

But I realize now that, by biting my tongue on my true feelings, I perhaps did Euphemia a disservice. A polite revealing of my own perspective – on being open to the sinner while disapproving of the sin, and of the extremely precarious balance between holding one’s own convictions and avoiding self-righteousness – would’ve been a lot more helpful and heartening to Euphemia than my hiding it. It’s sometimes good, then, to have “And you said …” take on its face value meaning.

In this column – my last of the year – I’d like to do just that.

And I say, out loud:

u You may have noticed that I’m (mostly) disinclined to be confrontational. For that reason, I’m incredibly grateful not to be on campus right now.

u My stance on abortion laws will not be revealed here.

u That being said, bloody masks belong in the Niles Scream Park, not in serious moral discourse. Regardless of which side is wearing them.

u That being said, I remain hopeful that the only reaction Randall Terry and his ilk are likely to provoke during Commencement season will be the same one garnered by the war protestors who showed up in my hometown for Jerry Ford’s funeral a few years back (i.e. utter disregard).

u All those things being said, the fact that a good friend of mine, a rational and productive leader of the pro-life movement at Notre Dame (and most definitely not one of Terry’s ilk) has had to disable her Facebook wall for safety reasons is disgraceful. And very, very sad.

u Relating to the much smaller epicenter of the on-campus shockwaves: a certain stipulation was missing from my last column. So now I add, that if your “Taylor” happens to be the same gender as you are, and you know that he or she is willing, then this member of the Notre Dame community has no problem with you going for it.

u Nothing anyone tells you about the city of Rome will mean anything until you visit it yourself.

u A completely non-controversial plug. Looking for a productive way to procrastinate this finals week? Look no further than www.EtiquetteHell.com. Now you can be entertained, improve yourself, and put off studying all at the same website.

u Speaking of etiquette, it’s generally a good idea to take a deep breath and consider all sides of a situation before stating one’s opinion on it. For instance, the hiding of one Christ signifier may be questionable, but the uncovered presence of twenty-six others is worth taking into consideration.

u Though, those deep breaths can be hard to inhale. Sometimes we do get so worked up that we hurl our passionate opinions or feelings out on a public forum. And in the right context, that’s fine. That’s free speech.

Of course the other side of free speech is other people’s right to answer our not-nice letters with not-nice responses. Experiencing as much first-hand is a painful, unforgettable, and essential lesson about communication (A confession: I once provoked a Viewpoint war, and all my vitriol got tossed right back at me).

But for the reactors, it’s important to understand not only what constitutes an effective and appropriate response, but also when the response stops being effective and appropriate.

Or, to quit beating around the bush. So, guys, at the risk of my being hypocritical, was repeatedly bringing up Miss Buddie’s name months after her letter ran really worth it?

u I personally do not care for The Vagina Monologues (my organs are not organisms, thank you), but I do respect the mission of the team behind it and especially the grace with which they handled their situation this year.

u I will, however, fight with all I have to keep Loyal Daughters and Sons alive.

u I haven’t actually made bran muffins while abroad.

u Writing this column has been a wonderful experience, and I want to thank those who in various ways have supported both it and me. Now that the project’s proved manageable and rewarding, it might continue, from the other side of the ocean, next year.

And I should’ve said, “Euphemia, I know it’s tough. But this is the world…”

Katherine Khorey is finishing off her junior year at Trinity College, Dublin. Euphemia is probably running her own Sunday School by now. You may

contact Katherine at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.