Clearly, there are days when I’m certain I’m too stupid to remember to exhale, let alone be all that I ‘should’ be to be a fully-engaged UU. But Kinsi raises questions about what it feels like to be someone who is widely (albeit sometimes shallowly) engaged in the world and who also happens to be UU.
The issue, as I’m reading it, is not so much that people like pop culture, as there are some people who make others feel bad or less-than because of the choices they make and how they spend their time. I know what that’s like because I have made someone in our congregation feel bad for being a member of the NRA. Worse, I made fun of the choice in front of others. (I was emceeing a “get to know you” game where you write down something you think others would be surprised to know about you and then those assembled guess who the ‘secret’ could belong to. The person wrote she was a member of the NRA and as I was emceeing I made a few digs about how could you be a member and a UU. I was new to the denomination and new to the idea of not humiliating someone for a laugh.) But here’s the thing about that experience: I got called on it in the most loving and direct way. The partner of the woman I humiliated pulled me aside the following Sunday and told me that she just wanted me to be aware that my words had hurt someone very important to her and asked me to be more careful in the future.
You can bet that was a moment when I took one giant step toward being a UU and beginning to take responsibility for the care of those around me. But I’m still not perfect and I hurt someone else another time, and, again, I was lovingly rebuked for being sharp and unkind.
So, here’s the thing: we are a diverse group. Some thrive on PBS and opera, while others find Survivor and American Idol as perfectly appropriate ways to spend an evening. some of us own televisions, others of us don’t. Some of us read the Nation, others read People, and some of us don’t read a magazine unless it is full of cool photos of home interiors. Some of us thrive on fast food while others are vegan, and most of us eat within a range somewhere fully in the middle. Not to beat a dead horse with a remote control here, we just have different tastes. What we are called to do, then, is to choose for ourselves and let others do the same.
This post is not so much, I think, about the choices we make for ourselves, but our own personal reaction to the choices made by others. The post is about how we are made to feel in the community so close to our hearts when we dally in not-so-noble enterprises–and we happen to let others know about it. And it is about calling out those who would do harm to people over something as trivial as what they watch on television.
It’s tough work, this living in community. And we can spend our time creating a community that lifts everyone up, or we can spend it making some feel marginalized and tentative where we should all feel integral and bold. So, how do we do that? Especially when (and call me on stereotyping here,but I will) those who are doing the marginalizing are generally those of privilege and standing within our church communities? I mean, will someone who put themselves through college by flopping Whoppers have the nerve to call the CFO of the international not-for-profit on being a classist lout? Chutney talks about classism much better than I ever will.
I’m still blundering away at this whole UU thing; still making sense of the mistakes I make and the choices I pursue. I’ve felt bad and I’ve made others feel bad, but the thing I keep bumping up against is the need to learn to just let people be who they are, where they are, and let them love who and what they do. And this includes allowing myself to be who I am, where I am, warts, pop-loves and all. (and, for what it’s worth: I hope Earl wins Survivor: Fiji and that either Melinda or Lakisha becomes the next American Idol)