“You humans are very strange creatures,” She said as She sat down.
I took a sip of my cocoa. “I can’t argue with You about that. We tend to do a lot of weird stuff to each other and to our planet. We are stubborn, willful, quick to anger, but then we can be full of compassion, joy, and happiness.”
“Well, yes, that’s very true.” She paused. “But your species doesn’t learn very well from it’s past, does it?”
“You all come through My realm, one way or another, and yet you never seem to listen to the Ancestors that came before you. They leave you books and pictures and art and music, and still there are those who willfully ignore or deny the atrocities done. They deny the signs of those who would only seek power for their own ends and feed on the hatred of others. They would willingly ignore the human race’s ability to change and adapt based on perceived notions of a lack of perfection in word and deed.”
I grimaced behind another sip of cocoa. I was rather glad that this conversation was in my head rather than physically real. Then again, I suppose if Ereshkigal became visible in the coffee shop, it would make things rather interesting.
She raised Her eyebrow at me.
I quickly answered:
“Some believe that it is only through perfection that we can change society. Others believe that we can only get to You and the other Gods through perfection. They believe that if we make mistakes somehow we’re not good enough. And, I think, sometimes some of us will shame and degrade others for mistakes long after the mistake was made and learned from.”
“What do you believe?”
“Well, I believe…I….” I stumbled.
“Do you not have an opinion?”
“I do…it’s just that…well…it’s not very popular…”
She raised her eyebrow at me again. “Priest.” She reminded me.
I took a deep breath. Right.
“I believe that demanding perfection from each other actually does more harm than good. If we don’t take the time to explain to someone who makes a mistake out of ignorance what they’ve done wrong, there’s no room for change. If we just tell someone they’re a horrible person and that they should just sit down and shut up, then all that does is build resentment.”
“And what of those who do it out of malice?”
“Well,” I said, “sit down and shut up can be a bit more effective then. I think there are some people I won’t be able to change.”
She laughed. “No, you can’t change everyone. You can’t change anyone unless they see the need to change.”
“But what about people’s anger?” I said, frustrated. “How can I acknowledge someone’s very real feelings around their oppression, but call them out on their lack of compassion towards those who want to learn and grow? I mean, I get that people get sick of educating people. I get tired of it, too. Sometimes it’s just easier to back away and just leave it alone!”
The Queen of the Underworld looked at me for a moment with sad eyes, then stood up to walk around the room. She stood behind the Latinx couple with a baby.
“Their daughter will get bullied and they will not be able to find an apartment because of their skin color and speech.”
She moved to stand next to the white man at his computer. “He doesn’t know his privilege, but he makes donations to charities every year because he can take it off his taxes.”
She moves to the white man and Asian looking man talking. “They are friends and meet here often. They both have conflicts of faith.”
Then she stood next to a teenage girl. “She knows that the world is wrong right now, and yet she will be a beacon of hope and change as she gets older.”
She wanders around standing near people and showing me their pasts and futures. Their humanity, their oppressions, their privileges, their struggles.
“They will all learn what they need to learn in this life. You are one teacher in a sea of teachers that they will come across. You don’t necessarily need to acknowledge their oppressions, but you need to absolutely acknowledge their humanity.”
“Remember what the Morrigan told you: you cannot save them all. And sometimes Death, in Spirit or in Fact, is a mercy, not a punishment.”
I nodded again. She sat down again.
I tried to think of something else to say, but my words were failing me.
She touched my face. “Don’t worry, my love, when they come to me, they will finally learn. It is not your place to demand perfection, but is is your place to try and emulate that which you hold dear. You will fail sometimes, but if you can tell me that you did the best you could when you arrive at My Gates, then I would be satisfied.”
“Yes,” She said as She got up to walk away, “You humans are very odd creatures.”