In recent days I’ve become aware of a practice I find very disturbing. It appears our American society regularly practices the habits of labeling, profiling, discriminating and separating various segments of our culture into smaller and smaller pieces. This practice, of course, only serves to position “us against them” and cause discord on many levels. I have not paid much any attention to this, until a comment was made at my church. I will stay quiet no longer.
The first nudge began with an article that came across my desk, comparing the characteristics between introverts and extroverts. Fortunately, it was a very positive piece, written to show the qualities each personality provides. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read it and can’t find it for my reference here. However, another website I discovered today (http://www.carlkingdom.com/10-myths-about-introverts) provides something similar, though highlights more the benefits of being an introvert. Both personalities are necessary to our world; one is not better than the other. Each has strengths to compliment and support the other. Balance is created when both are accepted into an organization or society.
The next unsettling bit of news came from a congressional bill that aimed to protect a familiar segment of society – those who wear leather jackets and ride motorcycles. The bill is/was an attempt to protect such folks from discrimination (as is done for gender, age, religion, etc.) by businesses or access to (commercial) property and refusal of service simply because of what they are wearing and what they drive [my interpretation of the bill]. I wasn’t even aware such fear and bias existed to such a degree, in my state of residence, in this century! To refuse service because of bad/offensive behavior, that’s more reasonable as it stems from the Universal Law of Cause and Effect.
Having personally experienced various degrees of discrimination myself – due to nationality, gender, age, and religion – the idea that I could be refused service because I rode a motorcycle and wore a practical, heavy coat against the wind and elements – just seems barbaric in today’s world. So I have to ask, does my being an introverted, female minister and a working, educated professional over the age of 55 who also likes to ride on the back of her husband’s motorcycle and wear black leather jacket, boots and chaps…am I a threat to your business? Really? I’m having a hard time expressing how ludicrous this is. What happened to “One nation…under God”? What happened to accepting our differences? What happened to Oneness taught in ALL major religions?
One of the things I preach EVERY Sunday is the acceptance of ALL people who come through the doors of our church and live in our world. We honor all paths, all faiths, all forms of prayer and worship…because at the core root of most religions, the same principles are found and we all worship the same God. Each religion teaches there is ONE God, thus, we are all praying to the same entity.
We are all members of the same family – the human family – and as such, I strongly discourage labels that even hint at separation thinking. For example, I prefer congregants over members – when referring to those who attend our spiritual community, so that everyone is included. It takes every one of us to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. But it only takes one fearful person carelessly expressing a personal bias against a certain group of people to damage the efforts of so many loving and open hearts. Whether in jest or in sincerity, words that separate do little good. Perhaps those thoughts, those beliefs, need to be examined and replaced.
Obviously, I have more work to do within my own church family. Apparently, I need to be more of a living example of what I’m expressing in these words. And, yes, I am more than willing to discuss the concepts and practices of Acceptance and Oneness with whomever is still living in fear of these ideals or does not yet understand the damage done through indiscriminate labeling and name-calling.
Based on the situations I’ve encountered just this week, I’ll be busy for quite some time. Won’t you join me in loving consciousness…for expanded acceptance of one another … for our human family? … for our Spiritual Oneness?
All thoughts and prayers are welcome.