Monday, January 09, 2017

What was said; what was heard

What does “diversity” really mean?  That we do not all look alike?  That we do not all think alike? That some of us appreciate the arts while others appreciate sports – and some appreciate both?  From where I sit, the battle cry for “diversity” seems to mean, “Shut up and agree with me”. 

Meryl Streep stirred a hornet’s nest in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, ostensibly cracking wise about Donald Trump and his public positions on immigration but ultimately offending yet another crowd that is not typically known to be so easily offended.  Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promoters, supporters, fans, and athletes as well as National Football League (NFL) fans and athletes took exception to her using them as examples of all we will be left with if Hollywood somehow shriveled up and blew away … or were deported.

I cannot say I am surprised or disappointed at Streep taking that particular forum to promote her own political agenda, but I can say her example (as well as what the “Hamilton” cast thrust upon Mike Pence and what Madonna has done so often) is the reason I will not pay good money to see a live show.  Whenever I pay to see a movie, I do not generally care about the actors or their personal beliefs about … well, anything.  I go to be entertained.  When I wish to be informed about any particular subject, I read a book, a magazine, or a website.

I don’t think Streep was deliberately taking a dig at athletes or sports fans more than she was simply saying, well, exactly what she said: do away with the arts, and all that is left is sports.  Understand I am not at all connected to or interested in the MMA or the NFL, so I suppose it is easy for me to have not been offended by what she said.  Frankly, I don’t care what she said.  What I do care about is how easily now even “Middle America” is so offended

Other entertainers have made derogatory comments about religion in general and Christianity in particular (subjects I am very interested in), but I attributed their very shallow observations to the equally shallow part of their being, as worldly and as tolerant as they believe themselves to be.  Jennifer Lawrence once made a comment about scratching her behind on a religious symbol in Hawaii for which she quickly apologized, saying she had no intentions of offending anyone.  Yet before even that incident, she made a comment about the Crucifix being somehow synonymous with destructive weapons in the hands of believers, but I am aware of no apology following that statement. 

As a Christian, I could not find it within myself to be offended because I think I know where she was coming from because, as a Christian, I am probably the chief among hypocrites.  I am not the best example of discipleship and Christian service.  I strive for better, but I fail more often than I can claim any measure of righteousness.  I still thought the comment was inappropriate.  More inappropriate still, however, is that this incident was reported on a national news site – one of those places I go to for, well, news.  Otherwise I would never have been the wiser.  I think maybe someone was just trying to stir something up.

There is a reason why I do not remember the date, the site, the time, or any other memorable mark … because Jennifer Lawrence and what she thinks is just not important to me.  It concerned me, of course, that this is her view of Christians in general but it did not offend me.  At least she didn’t say somethin’ ‘bout my mama …

Tolerance and diversity are both subjective terms to be defined only by the context of those who attempt to use them, and that is unfortunate.  The truth is we do not all look alike, we do not think alike, and we do not all share common beliefs about anything.  Common sense is itself a myth because what may be common for me is not common to all, but this is okay because what was once uncommon to me I learned through the words and examples of someone else.  Once I embraced what I learned, then it became common.  And if I rejected what was said or read, it remained and will remain uncommon.

I hope we can get past the ugliness of the past year and a very nasty election campaign.  I hope we can all heed Vice President Joe Biden’s declaration that “It is over” once the Congress certified the election results, and move on.  I will say this, however; if we are easily offended by anything at all, it may have more to do with the fact that we carry a perpetual chip on our shoulders and are actively seeking out fault more than that someone actually said something offensive.  Meryl Streep is an actor, not a philosopher.  The measure of her entire success is her ability to pretend.  Yet she has opinions not commonly held throughout the country; so does Jennifer Lawrence.  So does Donald Trump.  That they simply say something does not make it so.  Can we just let it go at that?  

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