Remember those bracelets?
Personally, I find it difficult to activate that mantra when I am dealing with people who think it’s optional that people different from them, or those they don’t dare to understand, should be allowed to live their lives the same as the “rest of us” (OMG, that’s such a HUGE othering phrase!). I mean, what WOULD Jesus do with the folks that think it is their right to abuse, oppress, or ridicule someone else? Shouldn’t they be punished in some way? But then, I don’t believe in a God that punishes. So I find myself repeatedly examining what IS mine to do about people who stick to their guns (figuratively and literally) when it comes to their prejudices knowing that the backbone of prejudice is generally a lack of knowledge or experience.
Maybe there’s nothing for me to do… maybe there’s nothing that can be done. Maybe doing nothing and pretending this doesn’t happen is the thing to do. Right? It doesn’t affect me, so I’m just going to be positive, not talk about the hard things, and it will eventually, magically fix itself. I mean, I definitely don’t want to rock the boat or make the bigots and crazy Uncle __________ uncomfortable!
Sidebar: In the parable of the Good Samaritan as a story-lesson told by Jesus as told by Luke who was taught by Paul in answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor,” this Good Samaritan stopped and helped a stripped and beaten Jewish guy even though back in the day these two groups hated each other. No one stopped to help him — not even another Jew! They didn’t want to get involved. But this Samaritan could have passed him by because he was “different” and they didn’t agree theologically, politically or socially speaking. And yet, he showed mercy. The Samaritan didn’t stop and ask him about his sexual orientation, or if he had a criminal past, didn’t care if he had piercings, didn’t know if he had a home or not, knew nothing of the presence of any addictions, didn’t ask if he was identified as a female at birth, had no clue if he had a side gig dressing in women’s clothing and partying like it’s 1999… he only moved on “love (the greatest commandment or law of all) thy neighbor.” WWJD? That.
It’s not hard to guess how Jesus would have treated trans folks, brown, black, or white folks (In case you missed the geography and ancestry lessons, Jesus wasn’t white.), gay and queer folks, drag queens, people without homes, immigrants (especially the brown ones, because lordy y’all are so welcoming to immigrants from European and other Caucasian-hegemonized countries — but I digress….), prisoners, addicts, etc. I don’t think he would have found them to be of such little value at all. I also don’t believe he would have felt his existence threatened in any way by any of them, nor do I believe that he would have felt that his own existence was somehow subtracted from or made less-than by their existence, AND I don’t believe he would have felt he was in any way superior to any of them. (Taking a breath….) YES, all that can exist in the same space at the same time… much like people. <side-eye>
In fact, I believe Jesus was not only a healer, a Rabbi (hopefully if you’re a follower, this is not news to you), and prophet, but a social worker and an activist as well. And dare I say it? A socialist. <gasp> But somehow so many of us hide behind fair-skinned, blue-eyed, light brown-haired Jesus when we want to protect our prejudiced, bigoted behaviors. I wonder what Jesus would have said about that. Some of us even go to churches and other places of worship that encourage that behavior which is not like what Jesus taught at all.
In my best Jesus voice (because I do have one in my head): Oh, never mind. I’m saving that for another post. You’ll have to wait a minute.
From the very beginning of Jesus, and even the beginning of the thought of Jesus, we have resisted changing our thoughts and mindset while claiming to be a follower, a student, a worshipper. We have continually tried so hard to make Jesus wrong without saying that he was wrong out loud. We have manipulated scriptures since even before Jesus; we seek out places of worship and groups that identify and align with our behaviors that are based outside of love, and then turn around and call ourselves “saved,” as if that elevates us somehow. Declaring it doesn’t make it so, but daily behavior and thinking does — or doesn’t. Choices, right?
I mostly think we just need to be saved from ourselves. It’s not like we don’t have the instructions. We have them, but we’re satisfied letting someone else tell us what they say. And I still don’t know what is mine to do about people who can’t figure out how hypocritical they are as Christians who think they can justify limiting someone else’s existence. WWJD? I’m honestly not sure, but I’ll keep asking.