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Rediscovering Our We-ness September 14, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Have you heard it yet? Have you heard someone talking about “those people” at the shelter? Have you heard someone concerned about how “those people” are going to “our” schools, meeting in “our” churches, and living in “our” community?

I have not heard it much, but I have heard it enough! I wonder if people who talk about “those people” have ever been in a situation to be considered one of “those people.” What I mean is that when I hear someone talk about “those people,” there is an unmistakable sense of in-grouping and out-grouping going on. “Those people” are out while the rest of us, the “normal people,” are in.

Yes, I remember when in-grouping and out-grouping was popular – back in sixth grade I believe. The preps didnít like the jocks who beat up the geeks, who had secret fantasies that the cheerleader would go for them because they were helpful with algebra. Yes, I remember those days Ė with horror. I did my best to get past that as fast as I could. Why? Because all too often I was one of “those people.” But even more than that, I knew somewhere deep down that it was wrong. It was not wrong because I suffered; it was wrong because it was wrong.

I wish I could say that we have all grown out of this childish cliquing of people, but we have not. Skin color, religious denomination, income, political leanings, Cowboy or Titan, “Less Filling” or “Tastes Great” and any other kind of difference seems to be a reason to in-group people based on similarities and out-group based on differences. It is like Protestantism has run amuck, desperate for anything to protest against in any and every facet of life. What is so often spoken of as benevolent and corrective is really an attempt at social cloning.

I believe the word, “diversity,” has been overplayed by many as a tool to have a blank check on social experimentation, but I also think that the people who cringe at the word have an unhealthy addiction to homogeneity Ė things just like them. Itís like my great-great grandmother said: “If youíre not Norwegian, youíre not nothing” (Please donít try to figure out how a guy named, Gonzalez, has a Norwegian great-great grandmother. Seriously, let it go or youíll hurt yourself).
Did you know her bias was against those terrible Germans? Forget African-Americans and Latinos, she was bigoted against those Germans. Oh, and letís not even say the word, “Lutheran,” because we all know how horrible they are.

It sounds whack to hear a Norwegian dissiní on a German. Some people might even ask, “whatís the difference?” And yet, even in that question there is a clue into the American zeitgeist. What does it matter if there is a difference? It is as if sameness is a commodity to be protected, preserved, and perpetuated and diversity is to be isolated, segregated, or even extinguished. Is being different really a reason to chop up communities of people into groups of clones who can backslap each other and affirm their own similarities? Is it so necessary to alienate a group of “those people” such that we can then take some comfort so as to say to ourselves, “At least I am not like them”?

Ever wonder what a soul looks like? Do you think souls have a race or a socioeconomic level? Or is there more depth to a soul than race, money, and favorite football teams? I wonder if we could only see the soul of a person what we might think of them. Perhaps everyone would be considered beautiful if we could really see people that way. I wonder if we were to look at the internal beauty of all people, would it reveal the necessity of their external differences toward creating the beautiful mosaic of human community?

Toward this end, there is none of “those people.” There is only us.



1. SG - September 15, 2005

Great post! The strangest thing I ever experienced in Kenya was racisim…yeah really! I thought since everyone was dark there would be no problem…but I was wrong! Turns out their are all these tribes and most think they are better than the rest. They also looked down their noses at Somalian refugges and Arab businessmen. Go figure.

In my suburbia life I find people tend to group themselves by their country clubs, kids schools & ages and sub-divisions/neighborhoods. I actually know of a soccer coach who only picks kids who have houses or lots in his subdivision for his team…just for conveinece mind you.

And yes our PTA has already had to address the fears of parents concerned about how those evacuaas will fit in with our little school. SAD!

We all bleed red.

2. Berrymom2005 - September 15, 2005

Thank you for reminding us that we are all God’s children and that skin color doesn’t matter. As the body of Christ, we are commanded to love one another as we love ourselves. I enjoy your posts so much. Kept up the good work!

3. Brandon Scott - September 15, 2005

Oh you’re one of THOSE writers. Kidding. Love you, as you know. Keep writing and challenging. Great thoughts, bro. It’s weird though, to me. How can anyone go through the last few weeks and still feel that way? This whole thing is so much lareger than race and class. And I am finding it a little wearisome that most conversations go to that. While it is TRUE and we need convicting. I also wonder if we’re not perpetuating it. Again..it’s one of those things where the only way someone will learn their way out of that kind of thinking is to befried and journey through this stuff with someone who’s actually in the middle of it. Not eveyrone has that luxury, but many do. I’m hearing a lot of people realizing how easily it could have been their family stuck or left homeless. It makes you realize how, ultimately, stuff is stuff and when it’s gone, all that remains is the heart. We’re getting a good heart lesson in all of this. Thanks for the reminder.

4. Neal W. - September 16, 2005

Recently, the community where I live was set a ready to invite 50-70 hurricane survivors to come to our town and we would help them get back on their feet. I was excited to be able to help, the plan had been set in motion, then a couple of wealthy business leaders told some civic leaders that they didn’t want “those kind of people” corrupting our fair city. “We don’t know anything about them”, they said. “We could be bringing looters and vandals and thugs to live with us.” And under significant economic pressure, the mayor and county comissioner called off the plan and nothing was done. We’re so enlightened…

5. MichaelPolutta - September 16, 2005

Why, oh why, do we presume the worst about everyone else, and fail to see the worst in ourselves?!?

God help us all!

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