Walking With Karen—A Lesson in Humility

For those few of us who may not have had occasion to view; read about; or hear related the sad ordeal of this remarkable woman, have a taste of it by clicking below:

I will reserve judgement as to whether those who can watch it in its’ entirety are callous; strong of stomach, or simply depraved.  (I could not endure past the halfway point)

While Karen has become a YouTube phenomenon and a lightening rod for the commentary of media punditry, it might be easy…even inviting for so nascent a blogger as I, to wax eloquent about it, with walls of text outlining a litany of societal flaws and exhorting the reader to pound his pitchfork; light his torch, and follow me to the forums of  the ethernet where battle can be easily joined with  those who do not profess their disgust loudly enough for our liking.  It would be easy…. but it would not be right.

What would be right would be to forego the sensationalism and the taunts….to stop; place ourselves in Karens’ shoes (or seat); and wonder at the growing portion of the infinitely small time we each and all have on this planet that is being devoted to just such pitchfork- pounding, and how much of our increasingly circumspect vision is being obscured by the smoke of the torches we bear.  Perhaps some precious moments devoted to such contemplation and such clarity of vision would convince us all that, if Karen were any one of us, would we have bided our temper?  Would we have turned the other shoulder after having been poked ( and, technically, assaulted) by the corner edge of a notebook?  Would we have quelled our tongues from lashing out?

Many, if not most of us, would not have bided; turned; nor quelled.  We would have, however understandably, reacted verbally; physically and with gusto.

But Karen did not.

The second coming draws nearer every day.  My take on this incident is simple and succinct:

            *It is a result of a culture so steeped in concepts of entitlement; ego and diversity, and so devoid of respect; faith and humility, that the ‘Golden Rule’ has become a useless tool and the ‘milk of human kindness’ has been supplanted by the energy drink of all that is base in the human soul.*

God bless Karen.  And God save those of us who scorn the thirst for the one true ‘energy drink’ of the soul:

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Walking Your Next Mile in the Shoes of Another

Racism, homophobia, “class warfare” etc. ….

These are not so much problems as they are the symptoms of a deeper issue. As a friend in a forum I belong to so succinctly points out: “But wouldn’t it be great if instead of pushing down and trying to take from the others, we could teach ourselves to create and be something bigger?”

Whatever your faith or religion, it cannot be denied that Jesus articulated two basic tenets of harmony: First, that we should love our God; and second, that we should demonstrate our love for our Maker by loving each other as we do ourselves.

Those guilty of ignoring these tenets are members of every race; all ‘genders’; every political party and all religious denominations. Those who strive to enhance their self-perception and regard by noting their own ‘superiority’ via vilification of “the other” are the truly bigoted villains of a healthy society.

It will not be until the ‘second coming’ that these faults can be finally erased from the human condition.

I majored in History. I watched the live coverage of hoses and dogs being used in the South in the ’60’s. “Strange Fruit“, a tale of lynching sung by Billie Holiday, is my favorite song by her. I do not see how anyone can be homophobic about a genre of personalities that include Somerset Maugham and Cole Porter.

Ever seen the films Traffic or Colors?   These powerful depictions of the folly of “otherness” address the basic issue more aptly than any focus group or sensitivity curriculum ever could or will.

Would that everyone could view and comprehend the message of these films. And by “everyone” I mean just that. Yes, caucasian males are the handiest whipping boys on whom to pin the badge of racism and homophobia, but again, the mindset of “otherness” is not confined to just us ‘pinkish prudes’. I note, from personal experience, that:

** My mother still uses the ‘n’-word’. It is reflexive in her and unchecked by the practice of…faith. (The ‘unknown’ as “the other”)

** I’ve worked with middle-aged, well-groomed black female professionals who matter-of-factly related to me their detesting of Condoleeza Rice when she was Secretary of State. They were certain she was the concubine of the elder Bush, and afforded no weight to her obvious intelligence and acumen. (‘Accomplishment and success’ as “the other”)

** I’ve been kicked out of gay bars for having brought a female who danced a bit too flagrantly for the tastes of the attending clientele. (The ‘difficult to pigeon-hole’ as “the other”)

**I’ve been turned down for a position at a former employer who, informed me that my background and qualifications were so good, that it might be “intimidating” to the younger, female prospective co-workers. Since I was securely employed in my current position, it seemed there would be no harm or foul in indulging in excluding ‘the graying male’ (as “the other”).

**At that same large employer, I was reported to security after inserting my hand into the closing doors of an elevator after a break. The refined Jewish female I shared the car with eyed me up and down from my shoes to my straw “Max Cady” fedora. Though I wore the mandated photo ID on my shirt, it was clear she regarded me as an interloper at best, and a public menace at worst.  After disembarking and returning to my desk, I predicted to my team-mates that I would be visited by a security officer soon.  And I was. After satisfying the security officer that I was a bona fide employee, I remarked to them that “I been profiled!” A directory search and a phone call, out of courtesy to my fellow employee in the elevator, did not elicit an apology. (the assertive and ‘severe-looking’ male as “the other”)

** My own former habit of disdaining those who come to church in jeans and sweatshirts has been conquered after working with and talking with these individuals and enjoying their company and contributions. (The ‘less holy than I’ as “the other”)

I could go on for days. My point is that, without the comprehension of, and adherence to,the Golden Rule, all this crap about racism and bigotry and homophobia will continue to be exploited as the favored elements of the arsenal of power politics. ” Divide and Conquer”,…that’s the ticket!!   Always has been, and always will be.

Love yourself!!  Love your neighbor by calling out the charlatans who would divide us by demonizing the other color; the other sexual preference; the other income bracket; the other political party; the other faith.

Resist being counted as ‘sheep”  by brokers of media power and influence.   Only God Almighty can view us as ‘sheep’.  We must all let “the other” shoe drop and finally walk to our own conscience rather than to the cadence of the drums of division.  The’ Golden Rule‘ is not a high-wire.  Its’ path is wide enough for all who shun the politics of division and recognize the Holy Spirit in each  of us as children of God.