The Personal Touch

We're really good at generalizing. If someone asks for the time and it's 3:41pm, we're inclined to say, "it's a quarter to 4." If someone's waiting for us, we often say, "be there in a minute" or "be ready in 5." And if someone asks for directions, we don't sound like a GPS. We'll say, "it's about a mile down that road."

Now are we always ready in 60 seconds or is that destination more like 7,500 feet down the road? Granted, for the most part, these approximations are harmless. But when generalizations are directed at people, we call them stereotypes. And for the most part, stereotypes do cause harm.

Consider the flurry of social media activity recently over DOMA. The liberal left has made a killing in the public eye by pigeon-holing conservative Christians as homophobes. In fact, the phrase "traditional marriage" is considered hate speech by many activist groups. As if religious notions of morality are somehow antithetical to a nation borne out of the religious intolerance of the middle ages.

photo credit: ShironekoEuro via photopin cc
Regardless, right-wingers are being targeted and unfairly caricatured to a public that doesn't know any better. And those in positions of influence, particularly in this information age, ought to be ashamed of themselves for blatant misrepresentation and sensationalism.

I've implied it before, but there is a significant difference between the proponents of traditional marriage at Westboro Baptist and say Uptown Baptist here in Chicago. Believe it or not, there are conservative Christians who support traditional marriage but aren't afraid of gay people or afraid to let their kids near them. In fact, God forbid, there are conservative Christians who have gay friends!

Does that sound like the hate-filled rhetoric we get on the evening news? No. Because there's a principle here: extremists define a movement. Just like not all middle eastern folks are terrorists, not all conservatives are homophobes.

Don't forget, the principle works both ways. Just because you've seen a Pride Parade or heard some LGBT activist announce their intentions to destroy marriage doesn't mean that every gay person is a pedophile or out to turn your children gay. This is ludicrous. Why? Because I have gay friends. And they have no interest in doing either of those things!

That's the difference between basing your political discussion on sensational, news-making journalism and people. And those who say you shouldn't let people affect your principles are ignorant modernists who don't realize that the news is biased and all of life is perceived subjectively.

Politics isn't some aseptic exercise in moral law. It's a dirty business if for no other reason than it deals with ruling people. And people are petty and cruel. But we're also easily hurt and shamed. So have your principles and hold fast your convictions as is your right. Just remember the last time someone made an unfair assumption about you before you do the same to someone else. Because then, if you're not too careful, you might let some of your humanity show.