Monday, August 06, 2007

Stereotypes, Lies and Malicious Gossip ...

It's funny:
I resent being called a liar ...
I also resent being forced to live a persona that is not reflective of me ...
I also resent deeply, being accused of doing something I didn't do ...

In recent months many of these things have become an ongoing reality in my life ... the gossip and rumours and innuendo have floated around thick and tenaciously, and as I've noted before the B&*%$?!t has been flung fast and furiously as well ... But what I struggle with most through all of this, is the imposition of senseless, unrealistic and close minded stereo-types upon me because of the career path I've been called to.

I've lost count of how many times I've heard the statement - "can you do that? You're a minister ..."

I've grown weary of being accused of being "less than Christian" because someone feels my actions are too human ...

Stereotypes are pointless ... The book The TV Arab, (illustrated above), is a beautiful expose of the stereotypes that operate in the entertainment media (pre-9/11), in regards to Arabs and the Arabic culture. Without going into it (find the book and read it yourself - you won't be disappointed), the book highlights the many negative stereotypes of Arabs that tend to predominate Western entertainment on TV and in movies. Shaheen identifies a couple of predominant stereotypes that operate in Hollywood:

The first is the oil rich hyper sexed up Sheiks who believe they can buy and sell anything, including harems of women ... a totally false stereotype.

The other is the Terrorist ... even pre9/11, this image dominated many portrayals of Arabs in modern media.

A third is a frightening religious fanatic who wants to impose his ways on all of us ... again, an utterly false stereotype of a rich and ancient cultural tradition.

Others included roles that emphasize and re-enforce the stereotypes, rather than expanding the breadth and depth of Arab culture around the world. But then it is easier to deal with a narrow stereotype, than to deal with the reality of something far broader and far richer than we may be ready for ...

I keep running hard against such stereotypes in my life ... The phrase - "can you do that? You're a minister ..." betrays such an underlying stereotype ...

My usual answer to such a query is - "I don't know about anybody else, but I know what I can do ..." and I do what I want.

But even then, it still leaves the unrealistic stereotype of ministers and what we can and can not be about on the table ...

Where does it say a minister can't enjoy a beer with friends?
Where does it say a minister can't have a few too many?
Where does it say a minister can't go out and enjoy an evening at the bar?
(Just for interest sake - Jesus' first miracle WAS turning water into wine! Look it up!! - THAT'S in the Bible !! And Jesus drank wine too !!!)
Where does it say a minister can't have a marriage melt down?
Where does it say a minister can't be separated from his/her spouse?
Where does it say a minister can't live life ?
Where does it say a minister is anything BUT a human being?
Where does it say a minister can't swear?
Where does it say a minister can't lose his temper?
Where does it say a minister MUST live a perfect and exemplary life?
Where does it say a minister can't make mistakes?

All of those statements speak a truth about my life ... I have nothing to hide ... I have no desire to hide anything ... I'm only interested in the TRUTH!!

If the stereotype someone is operating with puts me on a pedestal, I'm NOT interested ... I'm a person ... and like everyone else I live a real life with real problems and real stresses ...

If the stereotype someone is using finds me lacking - more power to them. I'm a firm believer that ALL have fallen short, and are in need of God's boundless gift of Grace ... but I've never claimed to be a pious religious fanatic - I'm not interested even in being one. I am a person who is living a real life. I've never claimed to be anything more.

I KNOW the truth. My family KNOWS the truth. And those I am blessed to call FRIENDS know the truth ... those who care about me KNOW the truth ... and those who care enough about the TRUTH, will ask me directly ... and I will tell them the TRUTH.

And the truth is ... well, it really doesn't matter because those who don't know keep showing that they don't care any way ... they aren't interested in the truth ...

I'm not perfect.

AND, I'm NOT interested in any tired STEREOTYPES ... I'm too busy trying to live my life in a complicated world ... I don't have time for anything else ...

2 comments:

ilene said...

Hi Shawn;.. I was catching up on some blogs on the week-end and clicked on your's. Sorry to hear that things are not so well since we talked at Conference. This one however resonated just a bit too much for me, so I though I would send along my prayers to you in this time. Call if you need to talk , or fire an e-mail. Take care and hang in there.

Indigo said...

Hello Shawn

You have been since the day I met you some twelve years ago in coastal Bella Coola a brother, and not just because we share the same birthdate. I sorrow for the anguish I read in your postings. Please know that you are always in my prayers (yes! I do pray)and thoughts.

Indigo