Sunday, 23 June 2019

More On That

In my youth, fundamentalist Christians had a lot of tribal behaviours that marked them out as "specially enlightened."  They had a symbol (the Christian fish, seen on bumper stickers, t-shirts, wrist-bands and flags) to mark them out as being more clued in and virtuous than regular, run-of-the-mill folks.  Someone might say "We're so excited. We're going to see [insert 90s band/rapper here] next week!" and they'd have to say "We saw [insert Christian ripoff of same here] last month. They really rocked" to show that they were part of a different tribe.

And when they got mocked or generally treated like outsiders by anyone, they got a slightly proud, stubborn glint in their eyes. They knew, deep down, that beyond all the social stuff, the lack of understanding, the everyone not getting what was cool about what they were part of, THEY at least could be (spiritually*) above all the social stuff, have a deeper understanding, and just know that what they were part of was, in some special way, FAR more cool than what all the other folks were enjoying of a weekend.

And they were continually wanting you to join them. Wear their merch, listen to the music, go to see guest speakers parrot the slogans they'd heard taught by a charismatic speakers they'd paid to see. They weren't good at conversations. (Not ones where people got to leave, amicably, with differing opinions, anyway.)

Well, I'm seeing a whole lot of this again, but this time it's not fundamentalist Christians who are doing it. They're not the main tribe subjecting the rest of us to smug, endless preaching. They're not the ones with all the tribe identifiers, available for sale now. (There's nothing wrong with joining a tribe.  Tribes can do good. But they're not intended to be for everyone, and mostly they're about fitting in and feeling in some way better than outsiders.)

Back in the day, we used to claim to get enlightened, we used to claim to see the light or get born again. Which we thought really set us apart from regular, unspecial folks who hadn't yet been awakened to what we were so into.

Nowadays? We get woke. (White straight people do, anyway.  Black people can't. Gay people can't.)

Unpopular thoughts for white, straight people in particular: Please, to bowdlerize Jesus here: don't rebrand yourself/market/advertise yourself as especially supertolerant. Don't. Just "be excellent to each other." Let the gay and trans people you encounter decide how well they thought you treated them, rather than wearing anything that announces you as a New York Times Best Seller, Blockbuster Hit of the Summer, Gold Standard of tolerance/Superfriend ally. Don't teach kids that civil treatment of people who are different from they are is in any way special, or somehow worthy of some kind of pat on the head.

Above all, please don't make a profit selling anything that lets as many people as possible go out and feel like they're making the world a better place by doing just that. Because to make a thing a Thing often makes it a fad.  And fads are very short-lived.  Instead, let's actually make it a thing.  Just a regular thing. An everyday thing. An unremarkable, unremarked upon thing. Like recycling. Or not smoking. No t-shirt needed.

If you're gay, you might enjoy a parade to go spend time with your tribe. I will respectfully wish you a good time there, but not try to score any tolerance points by advertising some bogus, groundless claim of peripheral connectedness to that tribe. Catholics do mass. Leafs fans cheer for goals. Scottish people do Highland Games. Indigenous people do potlatches, sweatlodges and powwows. Gay people do PRIDE. That makes sense to me. I'm going to be over here not wearing a crucifix, war bonnet, Leaf jersey or rainbow wristband.  (I'm not even going to wear a kilt or go to Octoberfest or the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day, though I have some claim on that stuff being part of my actual culture.)

Simply being a Christian doesn't make it not bragging to wear a shirt announcing a special level of spiritual correctness, devotedness, awareness, involvedness or enlightenment  It's still obnoxious and transparent. I feel the same about people being gay or trans and advertising themselves are being on an elevated level of tolerance and understanding. Let's not do any of that.  Let's be a whole bunch of different people who enjoy being different and leave each other alone. Let us be excellent to one another without ushering in the dawning of the age of Aquarius with a marching band, t-shirts, armbands, school songs, secret handshakes and membership lists. Let's just treat each other well without bragging about it or making any special announcements.

Recycling? Not really something to brag about anymore. Because we just all do it now, most of us.

That's what I think, anyway.

* spiritually: in one's imagination