Monday, July 6, 2009

I've Been Thinking (Again)

I just read a post on MySpace by Kyra Davis, who is a writer (she writes the AWESOME Sophie Katz series {"Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte" was the first one}, and she wrote a novel based on her marriage to a man with bipolar disorder called "So Much For My Happy Ending"). Of course, being a writer, and a really great one, her blogs are always fun and interesting. Today's was about reader reaction to another article, written by Sandrah Tsing Loh, about her divorce and her feelings on marriage. (Let's just say that, at the moment, Ms. Loh isn't a fan of it.) In the article she only writes about her own shrtcomings, not her husband's, but she does make some remarks that are meant to be funny. She is a humorist. But some people, apparently, aren't laughing. Which is fine, but some of the things they're saying...
One reader compared Ms. Loh to a Nazi.
WHich I thought was a bit extreme.
(As I wrote on Ms. Davis's page, there's a big difference between having an affair/ getting a divorce and rounding people up and putting them into ovens.)
So the question brought up my Ms. Davis, or ONE of the questions, is one I've been thinking about for at least 5 years. It's about Sides. Not the "You want fries with that?" kind of sides, but TAKING sides. Us vs. Them. If you're not with us, you're against us. Putting people into convenient categories, rather than letting them be the complex, multi-faceted individuals that they are.
There are a couple of things that got me started in my thinking. One was finding out that a close childhood friend of mine vehemently disagreed with me on the subject of abortion. Now, this happened many years ago, when we were still in our teens, in college, and knew everything. Part of me thought "Oh no! I can't be her friend anymore!" Then the saner, more rational part of me piped up with "Screw that! You guys have been best friends since 2nd grade! get over it, already!"
So we decided to agree to disagree.
And we're still friends.
About 4 years ago I was watching the news (I know, big mistake!) and saw a story about a courthouse in Atlanta (I believe) that has a statue with the Ten Commandments on it. Some people objected to it and were threatening to sue if it wasn't removed. Others wanted it to stay, and were protesting. One of the protesters said "This is a Christian nation. You have the right to be a Jew or a Bhuddist or whatever, but we are a Christian nation!"
And I got PISSED!
First of all, IMHO, if the statue offends you, don't look at it. But, even more importantly, we are NOT a Christain nation. We are a nation of incredible diversity, and that is one of our greatest blessings. We were the first country to welcome anyone from anywhere. Sure we had our issues (Remember "No Irish need apply?") , but people just kept, and keep, on coming.
And, ah, we also have that whole religious freedom thing in the Constitution.
My point is that there are usually MORE than 2 sides to every story.
We try to make thing simple, which is understandable, but in doing so we pigeonhole and, even worse, demonize anyone who is different from us. Whether they look different, think differently, or act differently. We make them less than human, which makes it easier to abuse them. Whether it's the title of a book ("Godless"), shooting an abortion provider and justifying it, or simply calling someone a "Jesus Freak" because they happen to believe in God and maybe read the Bible.
Every time we make fun of someone else, we ourselves become less. When we stereotype someone, we eek away a bit of our own humanity.
Please feel free to disagree!


Charlotte said...

Like usual, I heartily agree with you:) Especially this: "Putting people into convenient categories, rather than letting them be the complex, multi-faceted individuals that they are." I've said it before but if we lived by each other I daresay we'd be great friends:)

azusmom said...

I know we would!!!!!
(Ever consider moving to San Francisco? It's warmer!!!!)