Emperor Don set his plate on the table and sat across from Becky. “Thank you for the bagel,” he said with a smile.
Becky looked around the Bagel Fortress Bakery. “I’ve never noticed this place before.”
“It’s one of my favorites,” said Don, right before taking a bite.
The two sat in silence as he chewed.
“Now,” he said, cleaning his mouth with a napkin. “Tell me, what do you want?”
Becky frowned. “I thought I knew, but once you brought up the idea of contentment…”
Her words faded away.
“Perhaps we should start this way. Who are you?”
Becky settled herself in her chair. “I’m a feminist,” she declared.
Emperor Don responded with eyebrows raised. “Oh.”
A glint of suspicion flashed in Becky’s eyes. “You have a problem with women fighting for their rights?”
“Do you know what blessings are?” replied Emperor Don.
“Sure. They’re things you get.”
“That’s true, but they’re also opportunities you receive,” explained Emperor Don.
“What does that have to do with anything?” demanded Becky.
Emperor Don sat back in his chair. “Perhaps it might be better to understand feminism as more of a blessing than a right.”
Becky scowled. “I don’t follow.”
“Did you pick your husband?”
“Of course I did.”
“Over a third of all women worldwide do not enjoy that blessing. Or the opportunity to vote. Many are not allowed to drive or receive an education,” said Emperor Don.
“That’s why we need to fight for their rights, too,” fumed Becky.
“That’s my concern. Rights only exist until someone takes them away.”
“You’re wrong. They’re universal.”
“According to whom? Think of the Japanese living in this country during World War 2. Many were citizens. Overnight they essentially became criminals, shoved into camps and cut off from society. They had rights one day, then none the next.”
“That was a long time ago. Things have changed.”
“But human nature hasn’t,” said Emperor Don.
Becky took a sip of her coffee. “That has nothing to do with my contentment.”
“Besides, you’re a man. You could never understand what it’s like to be a woman,” accused Becky.
Emperor Don smiled. “No, I certainly don’t. I do understand fighting.”
“Do you always speak in riddles?”
“Earlier you mentioned fighting for your rights. That requires an adversary. An enemy. What happens when you succeed? Once animosity takes hold, you look for new enemies to fight. It becomes who you are. Eventually, all you know is fighting and anger. That leads to hatred. No one can live their lives this way and not damage their soul.”
Emperor Don took another bite of his bagel.
It took a few moments for Becky to process what she just heard.
“What are you saying?” she finally asked.
“View life in terms of blessings, not rights. When changes need to be made, work through fellowship. Men and women are partners, not enemies.”
“That’s pretty idealistic,” scoffed Becky.
“So is war. It requires the conviction that you are righteous enough to annihilate your enemy for the ultimate good,” said Emperor Don.
Becky sat back. “My head’s swimming.”
Emperor Don smiled sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry. I just wanted to offer you a fresh perspective.”
Becky leaned forward. Confusion was all over her face. “Who are you?”