The Comfort Zone Of "Us & Them"
Once again the subject of people's discomfort with homosexuality has gotten on my radar....
And once again I wonder "When is this ever going to stop?"
During Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade last week, one of the Broadway shows that stopped in front of the store to perform a few songs was "Kinky Boots." The response on social media by certain people was, unfortunately, not unexpected. For the story, see this link:
Certain people felt that an American tradition like Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was no place to show America a certain demographic of its population. Showing our children men in drag left some with "a little less hope for humanity."
For me it all brings to mind the quote from Ernest Gaines above. I think most people, by-in-large, speak out in such ways about groups of people because something makes them personally uncomfortable. We've had guns out in the open for hundreds of years so we're used to them (unfortunately). The open portrayal of the LGBT population among us has only really been gaining momentum and somewhat relative acceptance in the past 20 years or so...perhaps less.
We all have our personal prejudices about people that make us uncomfortable - that's part of being human. It isn't the most attractive part of being human, but its there and we're doing ourselves a disservice to ignore it.
But we do ourselves a far greater disservice if we cultivate and nurture it rather than strive to understand it and move beyond it.
The sad thing is that a vast majority of people never get beyond their prejudice to broaden their world view and rather stay in the comfort zone of "Us and Them." And particularly when it comes to sexual/social mores and things considered by some as culturally taboo, those prejudices can be entrenched all the more.
And yet, from the vantage point of a follower of Jesus, there is no place for an "Us and Them" mentality. In point of fact, that is the exact opposite of a world fully infused with God's Spirit as Jesus paints it for us....a world of extravagant welcome, of radical inclusivity, and of bold compassion in the face of a world that would have us do and be otherwise.
In Jesus' day, the social media response "Kinky Boots" received would have been about women, or children, or lepers, or tax collectors, or people who weren't Jewish...there's a laundry list of people Jesus shouldn't have had any business dealing with.
And yet he did...and it infuriated people who held their own private prejudices. Yet God's world as Jesus describes and lives it for us reaches far beyond prejudice and bigotry and enters into the relatively uncharted waters of genuine acceptance, authentic forgiveness and an invitation to ALL around The Table of Life. Whenever I hear a backlash like I did about last week's performances at the parade, it makes me consider how much work we have yet to do to accomplish what Jesus challenged us to do and be in the world thousands of years ago.
We love to talk Diversity, but we don't walk it very well. My prayer continues to be that we walk better...together.