Are you being profiled?
Called out for being who you are?
Different can do that to people.
An editorial last week in The New York Times announced that “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response.”
Although I try to avoid thinking of anyone in terms of such labels, by some measures, I could be considered part of the “religious right.” As a result, the headline got my attention.
Regardless of whether or not you might be in the Times’ target group, its sweeping assertion is disturbing. That a large, diverse group could be portrayed succinctly as any one thing such as being “hostile to science” is astounding. The article, though, offered a reality check for me on the risk of being different than the norm.
Whether you’re doing Different spiritually, educationally, economically, medically, or any other “-ly,” the Times article offers a helpful outline of how some people may take potshots at your mode of Different.
1) You’re lumped in by a broad-stroke generality with those who actually aren’t at all like you and what you intend in life.
“Hostility to science,” for instance, is a matter of perspective. Some naturalists may think that a belief in Intelligent Design is “hostile to science.” But it’s not (see my posts “’Different’ Starts with How You Look at the World” and “Engineering a Right Appreciation of God” for more on why I say this).
What if you think it’s a good idea to store up extra food (or toilet paper) in case some sort of panic buying disrupts our supply (imagine that!)? Does that make you a “conspiracy nut”? Probably so, in some people’s eyes. You know who you are, though, and you can’t let their perceptions bother you.
2) You’re accused of something you’re not guilty of.
The NYT article suggests the possibility that, in deference to the Coronavirus emergency, some churches may not have held in-person worship services recently, but then the writer focuses on three shocking examples of large congregations who met in spite of the threat to health. A more balanced view might have noted that most congregations heeded the social distancing recommendations.
Certainly, that's true of the several million U. S. members of the Eastern Orthodox Church of which I’m a part. Church leaders called all to “stand down” on Sunday and engage in live-streaming church services in order to respect the need to avoid large gatherings.
So, for your Different? You left a “good job” to start your own business. Does that mean you’re an irresponsible malcontent? Someone may think so. But you have to stay the course, anyway.
3) You’re labelled as something you’re not.
From “religious right,” the Times strangely concludes that those with leanings toward Christian spirituality are “Christian nationalists” because many believe in “limited government” or other traditionally capitalistic ideas.
One has only to read Ayn Rand's classic, Atlas Shrugged, to know that capitalistic leanings are not the exclusive territory of “Christians.” A extreme humanist, Rand paints a brilliant portrait of the benefits of capitalism while maintaining a sweeping, atheistic worldview.
And you? Just because you decide to homeschool your children, have you become anti-education? Compared to someone who thinks institutionalized schooling is the only productive form of education, you probably have.
Kind of Unkind
What it boils down to is that Different in whatever form—spiritual, economic, educational, health—often is not looked upon kindly by those who don’t understand the power and benefits of Different. Many actually find your choices threatening.
The difficult truth is that, at some point in your Different journey, you will have to put up with being misunderstood and unappreciated. Hopefully, you’ll never be mistreated, but, who knows? That’s probably not an impossibility.
So, wherever current events find you, hang tough, and stick with Different on your own terms!
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