Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Growing Up In The Red Sea of Hypocrisy

So most of you recently have heard (oh please I hope) of the statements Sally Kern made, that were secretly recorded and placed onto YouTube. Even more recently Kern was on Flashpoint and had a debate with my cousin, pastor of The Cathedral of Hope, Scott Jones. The link to view the debate is above. As I was watching the debate, besides the feelings of pity and disgust I had for someone whom was even misquoting the bible from which she assumed her justification for her words and views, I was filled with reminiscence of all my past "conversations" with people of opposing views on race, religion, sex and gender roles, homosexuality, ageism, xenophobia, etc.

Ever since I can remember I have been at odds with the views of most Oklahomans. Not that I haven't done so myself as a younger person, I've always felt something intrinsically wrong with making fun and/or picking on someone because of something they had little to do with, such as race, sex, or sexual preference. As I grew older into my teens, these feelings grew to encompass ideas of toleration for religion (as much as an anarchist, atheist person could at the time), ethnicity, political views, people that choose to eat meat, or any other points which we were free to choose.

I can say though that my patience, understanding, and tolerance of ignorance and stupidity has grown smaller and smaller. I define ignorance as usually those viewpoints of people that are present because people have not been exposed to very many ideas. Often their friends, family, neighborhood, and/ or town usually hold a similar view and because this person has been exposed to mainly this point of view, they believe that this is the correct (and/or only view). Stupidity differs and occurs when one holds a view that is ignorant even when other information/ views have been presented to the person and they "refuse" to listen, consider, or accept a view that differs from their own.

I think many people often consider points of view that differ from their own with caution and skepticism (as I do), with disdain (those who do not like being viewed as wrong), and/or fear and anger (such as people like Kern). When you question people's views, especially ones that have held for sometime, or ones they share with a group, whether it is their family or friends, most people I have encountered are none too pleased. In some part they feel like you are questioning their intelligence. Others feel like you are attacking them as a person and all they have known. People are often threatened by change and ideas that are different. It in some way means that things done, ideas thought, words said might not have been as innocent as they once thought or were led to believe.

I do not consider people stupid for not knowing about how something could be offensive or insensitive to someone else. I do consider them that way if they try to close themselves off from considering what they did or said was wrong. I am also less likely to consider someone as ignorant of issues if they themselves belong to a minority group. My example here comes from one I share and encounter often. Being part of the gay community I must confront ignorant ideas such as Kern's that I am a threat to the moral fabric of society. But I am also part of the Asian American community and must face issues of racism associated with stereotypes about Asians. Some would assume that since I am gay and work for the idealization of a free society for all people that other gay people would have the same view. I believe most people assume this because gays have been and are persecuted for something they did not choose. In this sense they should also understand racism and try their hardest to eradicate injustice and unfairness such as racism and sexism. I used to be that idealistic.

Most of the gay population in Oklahoma (believe it or not!!), are Caucasian. And most of these people have not heard or considered ideas of race. They really haven't had to. It was just in the last few years that the Tulsa Race Riots was admitted as occurring by the state of Oklahoma. And no, I do not believe that one's views of race greatly differ according to your class or education, I've met bigots from all educational and class levels. And while I've met more people in college that believe as I do, I also had the chance to meet plenty of ignorant and stupid ones as well. Another part of trying to tell people that what they said or what they believe is offensive to you is the extreme and and almost immediate anger they have towards your words. They believe that you view them as racist and an ignorant person. If you are talking to me or hanging out with me I seriously doubt that you are racist, but I do believe anyone, black, white, yellow, brown, purple, can have and/ or harbor racist ideas and stereotypes.

We in society are inundated with racial, sexual, religious, homophobic, ageist, cultural, etc, stereotypes. This is mainly why I abhor pop culture. When those around us reinforces those ideas because they live in the same medium as you, most people come to accept that idea as true, none the while realizing that people they may have ideas or stereotypes about are in fact ranging in diversity. I do not consider those who have these ideas as "stupid" or less smart than me because I realize how many Oklahomans have grown up. I WILL consider you as ignorant and even stupid, vile and disgusting if you choose to act as Sally Kern does and close yourself off to ideas that are different than yours. I will feel sorry for you for lacking a strong sense of right and wrong (called morals) to see that treating anyone unequally for something they can not help is unjust. And I one day hope that you love yourself enough as a person to know that everyone deserves freedom, equality, and respect in this world. But that will not happen until we look into ourselves and change all the things that keep this from happening.

'You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’
—Mahatma Gandhi

'Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies.’
—Robert Kennedy

‘The world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.’
—Charles F. Kettering

‘The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.’
—Martin Luther King

‘A great wind is blowing and that gives you either imagination or a headache.’
-Catherine the Great

‘It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.’
—Alan Cohen

And my favorite for many years now...

‘Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’
—Margaret Mead


Dave said...

Just be thankful that if you do have to live in Oklahoma that it's in OKC... there are a lot worse places out there in our grand state (I just came back from one).

Dave said...

A little off topic but did you see this?