Last night I performed some uncharacteristic web-browsing—in that normally I don’t. I am either looking at products (e.g. fabric, patterns, etc), researching something in particular, or quite honestly staring at the screen wishing myself in bed but being unable to dislodge the glowing screen from in front of me.
It was an eclectic mix, from an organization teaching surgeons in Africa, to a science fiction writer—an atheist—dying of cancer, a commentary on recent super-hero movies (which I don’t even watch). But all in all, I went to bed thinking a 25-page blog post, being of course too tired to write it out just then.
I guess one of the things that stuck with me most was the idea of trying to find the balance about asserting who you are versus telling everyone else that your way is best.
The dying atheist roundly dismissed all conservatives as deluded and stupid, and said that while liberals weren’t perfect, at least they were in touch with reality. I’ve seen the exact same sentiment by conservatives spewed at the liberals, each asserting that the other side is ignoring the Obvious, Clear Evidence that their experts of choice have defended.
And the African surgeons made absolutely no bones about being a Christian organization, interested in teaching Christian surgeons, and being more worried about being disciples of Christ than being politically correct. They prayed over their patients openly, and made their faith their number one priority, with their field of service coming second.
On the one hand, I am so sick of assertion. This is where the movie commentary comes in—the commentator made note of the fact that one of the greatest powers of super-heroes in modern movies is Absolute Certainty. The superhero knows that his actions are right, that there will be no negative effects from his decision, and that he will be Always Right. We can sit and say “that’s stupid” when we’re looking at a movie, but—how does it go? Art imitates life?
Sometimes I am just at the point where I just don’t even want to know what someone else thinks. I’m tired of the dogmatic assertion. I don’t even want to go back and read any of my older writing, with my dogmatic assertions about sewing, or life, or whatever. You don’t know what you’re talking about, okay? You really don’t. Stop talking.
To quote Margaret Mead (I don’t know who the heck she is), “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Less talking, more doing. Stop talking about what you’re doing. Be quiet and be busy. I don’t care about your facts or your projections; if that’s all you want to do, go away. Liberal, conservative, atheist, bible-pounding warrior—shush. Work. No whining.
But on the other hand, I am jealous of the Christian African Surgeons. We believe in sep’ration of churchnstate. ‘N business, ‘n healthcare, ‘n mostly neighborly discussions. It doesn’t matter how important your faith is to you—you’re expected to work for 40 hours a week and deny anything but work in that time. When you go home and want to have faith unto yourself, fine. But you should be a totally different, sanitized person for the rest of the time. Like, the majority of your waking hours. Pretend to be something other than what you are, or at least stifle it and stuff it down.
I wish I was better at being like the African Surgeons, and insisting that Christ came first and would color everything else. I wish I was comfortable telling the world about African Surgeons, but I hear my own voice—“shush. We don’t need to hear what you think.” I carry around the important things, the things that make me think—and don’t speak them, for dread of adding to the clamor. So I join the throngs spinning out cotton candy. Is that more worthwhile?
No. Maybe I am just afraid of being pigeoned-holed? They way I just did to the dying atheist? I start talking about God, and I’ll just be lumped in with the girls who go to church, and talk there with the friends about the baby their trying to have with their boyfriend, but they’ve had a miscarriage. I’ll be lumped in with the guy with a son out of wedlock and 5 girlfriends later, who’s so proud to see his son performing in the church choir. I’ll be lumped in with the patriot movement, the God-likes-us-to-go-kill-bad-guys movement. I’ll be assumed a Fox-News watcher. I’ll box myself as a self-righteous façade, someone who likes to talk about pious things, but doesn’t understand the holiness of God. I’ll be one more voice insisting I’m right, and benefiting no one at all.
Always be ready, we’re told, to give an explanation for the joy you have within you. I get comments on my smile, on my laugh, on my positive outlook (speaking of facades one puts up for 40 hours at work?), but it would be entirely unprofessional for me to give a reason. To say “God is good, and He grants grace.” Why? Why is it in Africa you can say that and in America you can’t?
But I don’t want to be the preachy one. I don’t want to be the one filling all the voids with I Am Always Right; I am not a super-hero. I don’t want to be The Chicken Who Has Laid an Egg. I just don’t want to hide the light that I have found under a basket. I want to take the basket away, without sending out shrill platitudes of emptiness. Such noise is unpleasant regardless.
I suppose, when it all boils down, the question is—is it possible to not be a hypocrite?