jeudi, novembre 12, 2009

Tears of a clown

While we have our wack jobs in the United States, geography and a commitment to remain an open culture have been, on the whole, blessings for us.

But, like most blessings, there are shadow sides.

One? Our American cult of victimhood.

How can it be that, in this large country, which offers so many opportunities, we pit ourselves against one another in a grotesque dance of victimization?

I've read that bankers complain because the public apparently has negative opinions of (some) of them.

Honestly, its hard to feel too sorry for folks making upwards of $500,000 a year.

Celebrities complain because, well, they are celebrities -- and they lose their "zone of privacy."

Affluent evangelical Christians claim they are part of the persecuted counterculture.

Businessmen and women are persecuted by bureaucrats and taxes.

Farmers are persecuted by government trying to take away their subsidies.

Liberals blame conservatives as a class for pretty much everything (and let's not talk about what the conservatives say about liberals).

Catholics in places of great influence rail at the media (always the easiest target), Episcopalians assert that they standing up courageously against a prejudiced world (from the safety of their shrinking churches).

The past few weeks have afforded a few more chances to think about this strange thread in our national character. CNN anchor (now former) Lou Dobbs helped fan the embers of this national pity party. His resignation is a positive for the cable news network -- but he will find another place to voice his anti-immigrant rants.

After all, there are plenty who still want to hear, and to believe.

I'm only a generation or three removed from the immigrants who had to deal with generalized prejudice against Jews -- as there was prejudice against the Irish and Italians. But as far as I can tell, my ancestors, like perhaps your ancestors, saw overcoming bias as a challenge, rather than as a reason to compare themselves with others less afflicted.

I have friends who have truly been the victims of hate. There are few things more painful than hearing that someone you care about has been wounded by institutional prejudice, or by someone's hateful mutterings.

I recently had to work through some of my own feelings as a member of a minority denomination when Pope Benedict reached out to some of my more conservative brothers and sisters and invited them to swim the Tiber.

My wounded feelings weren't for me in particular, because I have a strongly ambivalent relationship with the Episcopal Church. Instead, I felt that seductive sense of oppression by a majority faith.

"They" don't understand our ways or traditions. "They" don't care about how we feel.

Yanno what? That could all be true, and it still wouldn't matter. If I'm a member of a minority, I am a darned privileged one.

To blame bias for everything doesn't do justice to the complexity of the truth. And truth is usually complicated.

Yet those most deserving of our empathy, those who most need our help, are those often without a voice -- abused kids, men and women serving our country out of sight and often out of mind, the urban and rural poor. They don't have our soapboxes.

If we started looking out for their welfare, instead of complaining about how we have been slighted, maybe we could use our passion for justice to truly make a difference.

However, if you like feeling like a victim, this truly is the land of opportunities.

2 commentaires:

norman pease a dit…

great post. Loved every part. Lost track of this blog for a bit....glad to be back.

Offcenter a dit…

Glad you are back, Randy. I missed seeing your comments. Keep commenting. :-)