Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Major Generalization

No single thing defines who we are. We are a conglomeration of all the things in our lives. I'm an artist, a lover, a writer, a female, a 50 year old, a cook, an atheist, a daughter, a heterosexual, a musician, a sister, a reader, a nature lover... the list goes on. This is why I get peeved whenever someone tries to generalize me into a tidy little box that falls in line with their thinking.

But here's a stinky little not-so-secret. I do the same thing, and I detest that quality in me. So, I'm sitting here confessing to you in hopes that I'll kick the shit out of that nasty little beast and it won't have the balls to come back.

I caught myself doing it just yesterday. I made a generalization about Christians. In fact, I have nothing against Christians. Some of my finest friends are Christians, and I respect their right to their belief. To me, preferring one religious belief over another (or none at all), is pretty much like preferring a certain flavor of ice cream. Whatever floats your boat, put it in a cone and have at it. Just don't try to make me eat it too and we'll get along fine. We all take comfort from something.

I'm off track... where was I. Ahh, yes. I made a generalization about Christians, and a fairly derogatory one at that. In fact, the offense had nothing to do with the fact that the person claimed to be a Christian, but more with the fact that they were blatantly rude and without compassion. Rather than simply call them on their disrespect, I called them on their Christianity. Yeah. Me. The chick who constantly tells people not to judge.

Mea maxima futuo culpa.

So, I am apologizing to you, to all of you. Because that is not who I choose to be, and I will hold myself accountable. How could I not? Many are the times that I've mentioned something about myself to another person and in return I get an assumption. I tell people I'm an artist and I get the look (if not a verbal response) that tells me they think all artists are insane - which I find ironic, because art is what keeps me sane. I tell people I'm an atheist and more often than not I get one of two looks - Look One is a mournful thing akin to the response expected upon telling someone your body is riddled with inoperable cancer; Look Two is a hardened, almost angry look that says, "By Jesus, don't you even think about trying to talk me over to the dark side!" Either of those looks drive me bonkers. Not only do I have a soul, but it's usually a fairly sensitive one at that.

That's why, when I feel the need to point out the flaws of others, I realize that there's probably something about me that's holding sway over the entire gig. And that's why I'm sitting here writing this. All too often the offense we take is the offense we give.

Can we all do each other and the world a little favor? Can we pare back on the generalizing and prejudging? No matter what the subject is?

We're all people, all hanging out on the same rock. That's all the generalizing we should do.


  1. Ouch. Now I'm feeling guilty about my little Welfare Queen link. But you're right as usual, Barb. We can't see inside another's soul and to make character judgements based upon isolated incidents is careless at best and cruel at worst.

  2. Greetings from another atheist...
    Judging can kill indeed...


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