Monday, July 30, 2012

The Societal Rejection of What's Really Going On: "They're on to us! Crucify Everything!"

Hello blog readers. It's been a while, but it's all relative I suppose. I want to talk about a couple of news stories that have popped up in recent weeks. The first is this whole Chick-fil-a CEO Dan Cathy debacle. He has been under fire, with lots of people getting all boycotty over his views on the preservation of traditional marriage.  The second is a story about Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou. If you haven't heard, Voula was banned from the Olympics in London for tweeting the following:
"So many Africans in Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food."
The Olympic people thought that it was too racist and quickly banned the 23 year-old from competing in the Olympics, which she had already qualified for. These stories summed up: harsh reaction to an "intolerant" statement that was made publicly.

But, something's been bothering me about these stories.

Let me state outright that I genuinely have no relevant opinion on these two individuals, except this: Ms. Papachristou shouldn't have posted what she posted, and Dan Cathy should have been a little bit more careful with who he told what to. 

But, moving on from what was said, I've been really impacted by society's reaction to these cases. Our societal norm seems to be as such: if you say something intolerant towards certain races or sexual orientations, everyone around you will go to great lengths to condemn and dissociate themselves with you. Plain and simple. 

The question that I am compelled to ask is, "What are we so afraid of?" I think that people's harsh reaction to Voula's tweet is indicative of a serious fear and refusal to face what is really going on. We all have racial prejudices built into our being as a result of our cultural experience and exposure over the course of our lives. Generally, white people have certain assumptions about black people. Black people have certain assumptions about white people. Those prejudices are there. I see them in myself, I see them in the people that I interact with. But, we're so terrified of these things within ourselves that we quickly crucify anyone that comes out and states them explicitly in an attempt to separate ourselves from them and their "views" as quickly as possible. I believe that this effort is really an act of denial: it is a measure that we take to make sure that the darkness within us does not show itself to the people around us. We are afraid of ourselves, we are afraid of the people around us, and we are afraid of what's inside of us because of how it makes us look. So, as soon as someone else opens the door a tiny crack and exposes some of that darkness that we all carry around, we jump at the chance to condemn it and convince everyone around us that it doesn't exist in us ("She's so racist. I would never say anything like that.")

Now, prejudice is a terrible thing; it is ugly and self-serving and has led to some terrible tragedies in our history. But the power that it holds over us when we refuse to acknowledge and face it in ourselves is astronomically greater than if we were to see it for what it was and face it head on. Because, truth is greater than our prejudices, and as soon as I say, "Yes, the darkness exists. This evil is in me," I can begin the process to see it overcome by truth. When I catch myself assuming that the black kids on the corner of Boulevard and Rankin St. are selling drugs, I can either ignore the prejudice within me and tell myself it isn't there and try and convince everyone around me that it isn't there, or I can acknowledge it. Once I acknowledge it, I can stand up to it with the truth that my generalizations aren't the truth. Truth will win out over lies every time. I believe that with all of my heart. But, the actions of the Mayor of Boston and the media regarding this whole Chick-fil-a thing, and the actions of the ban-happy Olympic committee do not reflect an embrace of truth, but a desperate attempt to dissociate ourselves from the darkness inside us. We don't want to be exposed for what we really are.

It's crazy how afraid we are of ourselves. 

So, let's rise up and own our darkness. Only then can we stand up to it with Truth and see it lose out to something greater. No one else in the world is prejudice-free, dear reader. It's okay if you aren't. Acknowledge those prejudices, counteract them with truth, and love the people around you regardless of those silly distinctions we come up with to feel safe. It's all going to be okay.