Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Who do you think you are?

So, this post was inspired by church over the weekend. You can skip the next two paragraphs cause I promise this will go someplace political. Oops. Okay. Yeap. See many of you later. It's been real. Sunday's scripture was Galatians 3:26-28. It says:

  • In Christ, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who are baptized in Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ.
Okay, bear with me. We go to a fairly liberal church. While it wasn't our pastor who preached this week, but a gal who did a great job who is going through seminary, a point she brought up is that is text likely predates Paul's letter to the church at Galatia. It's essentially saying that in choosing to worship Christ, we are all equals.

However, the sermon started simply with the pastor asking each of us to close our eyes and think about how we identify ourselves. What words do we use? I came up with tall, skinny, athletic, husband, father.

As the sermon went on, I realized three things I didn't think of: straight, white, male. This, my friends, is where this becomes a privilege conversation, and an unintentionally themed Pride Month post.

Why didn't I think of any of those three things? Well, because those are the privilege trifecta. Never have I had to worry that my race, gender, or orientation would have a detrimental impact on my station in life. I'm going to work backwards here.

Being male means that historically, my gender has had the "power" as it were. Now, I hope I've never been one to abuse this power, but I know I've been a damn moron at times in my life, so I apologize for my actions, not if people were hurt by them, but rather I apologize for actions that I took that offended people. I should've been better.

This particular categorization shows up in athletics. Picture this: high school basketball game, your kid's team is down. They can play with this team, but they've had a bit of a run in the last, say, five minutes, and the other team clearly has the upper hand. Coach calls timeout. When the players get to the sideline, the coach lays out what's happening technically, then says, "And most importantly, smile! Look like you're having fun out there."

Now, did that coach say that to a team of male or female basketball players. You having a hard time picturing a bunch of sweaty dudes being told to "smile" in the heat of battle? Yeah, me too. In fact, I'm guessing a lot of you would probably have words with the coach after the game if he'd said that to your son's team.

However, we'll yell that from the sidelines of a girls' sporting event. We might even expect the coach to say that. Why? Well, smiling does two things. 1) It helps instill confidence and overall positive feelings and 2) Makes a person more attractive (except for me in pictures, but that's a whole other post...). We don't say that to male athletes. I don't say that to female athletes. I tell the girls to get in there, shoulders back, chin up, and believe they can outplay their opponent.

In my chosen career, the payscales are probably more balanced than most, although I can't say that with certainty and I won't research it THANK YOU VERY MUCH! And while studies are all over the map on the gender pay gap, the reality is that it does exist, and it's something that needs to be fixed.

Next up: White. I'm white. You know why I never think of myself that way? Because white Europeans founded this country and ever since that day, many have decided that we're superior to other skin colors because...? Actually, I don't know. I don't know how you can look at any other person of any other skin color and decide that the thing, the thing that makes you better than them is the color of your flesh that you've worked SO HARD to achieve. Wait. No, actually, you haven't. To quote Lady Gaga, "You were born this way." (I love that song)

History books used in American schools have a very western-centric bias. Seems like people like Copernicus really helped push science forward. Except that was the 16th century. You know what we needed to even start to figure that out? Algebra which was invented in the 9th century by Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi in what is now Baghdad. Irrigation, a staple of western, especially American, agriculture, was first used by the Egyptians around 3100 BCE. Did western cultures invent and discover a lot of cool stuff? Yes! What is disproportionate to other parts of the world? NO!

Finally, straight. I am straight. I was terrible to some of the kids in my high school who were either brave enough to be out, or dealing with the pain of staying in the closet at a time when acceptance of LGBTQ+ was not near what it is now, which is terrible. I realize those people may not read this, but I'm deeply sorry for the actions that I took that caused pain. There is no excuse.

One of the refrains you here frequently during Pride Month is, "Why isn't there a straight pride month?" The answer to that, I think, is pretty simple. That's dumb. Being straight has been not only societally acceptable, but even expected, for nearly all of human history. We all know how recent steps toward equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community have been. The first steps. There are many more needed.

Why isn't there straight pride? Because we don't need to walk around declaring who we are. We haven't had to fight to have our love legally recognized and all the benefits that come along with that. While I don't, for a minute, think being LGBTQ+ is a choice, I frankly don't understand what difference it makes. Love as thou wilt. And don't come at me with the bathroom debate. That entire discussion is based on falsehood.

My takeaway from the pastor's sermon on Sunday was that the idea of equality, true equality, dates back to pre-biblical times. It also drives home the idea that Christianity is a faith based on love and loving equally. I've never been perfect, I never will be, but I'm trying to be better everyday. Church just got me thinking the other day.

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