Saturday, February 12, 2005

Religious Hypocrites with Email Access

My best friend from childhood through high school likes to forward me stupid email messages. Normally these forwards belong to one of three categories:
1.) Please Pass This to the Women in Your Life--it May Save Their Life!!!!!
These are usually urban-legend type stories of women almost being assaulted/raped/kidnapped........and IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! Be careful, lock your doors, never leave the house without six male relatives, carry mace on your keychain. Never, ever act like an independant woman who has freedom of mobilility and isn't afraid of her own shadow.
2.) Bible verses, 'miracles' or other religious drivel.
3.) Heartwarming stories, inpirational poems or other 'traditional family values' laden crap of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" or "Reader's Digest" mentality.

groan. Delete. groan. Delete. groan. Delete. groan.

She and I have very, very differend lives and opinions, but I still value her friendship. She is married for over four years, pays a mortgage, lives in a rural/small town setting near our hometown, is quite religious and grudgingly took one year of college (to remain on her parents insurance while she had knee surgery/therapy). Her husband is a heavy equipment operator who drives a huge pick-up truck. They love country music, always drive newish vehicles and recently had a child. When I visited them after 9/11/2001 there was a huge American flag hung on the side of their home.

I am none of the above.

Today she forwarded me this gem of carefully formulated foreign and domestic policy:

You gotta love Robin Williams... Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan .. what we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message. Robin William's plan. (Hard to argue with this logic!) I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan.

1.) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic and the rest of those 'good ole boys,' We will never "interfere" again.
2.) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes in the fence.
3.) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France would welcome them.
4.) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.
5.) No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home baby.
6.) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
7.) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.)
8.) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.
9.) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place. We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
10.) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer.
The Language we speak is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE...Now, isn't that a winner of a plan.

"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'"
If you agree with the above forward it to friend... If not, and I would be amazed, DELETE it !!!!!

First off--Warning: Racism saturation.

Second--I am quite perplexed as to how many of these issues even affect her at all. She does not encounter cabdrivers, immigrants, 7-11 clerks, asylum-seekers, 22+ 'students' or even non-english speakers. She also lives in a village with less than 400 people--hardly a terrorist target. She experiences neither the benefit nor burden of diversity--yet apparently has decided that it is bad and needs to stop.

Finally--Holy Hypocricy. This is my main problem with the situation and I really am tempted to call her out on it. Exactly how does one think of themself as a good Christian and simultaneously agree with amazingly callous treatment of the poor, oppressed and desperate? I have always had too logical of a brain to buy into religion and sermons are boring, so my understanding of the bible and Catholic doctrine is pretty shaky. However, I think Jesus's message was all about forgiveness, sharing and love. He aligned himself with the poor and seemed critical of greed, selfishness and pettiness.

So I really wonder how a policy of completely ignoring the suffering of others and turning our backs on poor, tortured, victims fits in with the purported basis of Christianity.

Given the conflict between my natural brattiness and my desire to retain this friendship, I don't know how to respond. I sort of think that simply replying, "WWJD?" might be the best way.

Any other thoughts?


At 10:58 AM, Blogger Sascha said...

I get the warm-fuzzy-urban-legend-save-a-life emails from my Grandma all the time too. Beware of Grandparents getting email!

But what I wanted to comment on was people's motivation for sending stuff like this and subscribing to it, if they do entirely. Ok, I'm not arguing with anything you said. I believe that religious hypocrisy is the number 1 killer in the world (well, outside giant tsunamis anyway!). My family is also very rural and, when my mother came to visit last year, she wouldn't go to an Afghani restaurant with me because she didn't want to support "them" in any way. I argued in futility.

The point of that email isn't that anyone *wants* to do any of that stuff (at least I sincerely hope not). The point is that the entire world focuses on all of the negative things about the US and a lot of people (especially people without any kind of global perspective) are really resentful of that and have suddenly found this email that articulates all of their resentments in one funny lump.

Most people, when pressed, aren't going to believe that all of the people from other countries should be held accountable for a few politicos. However, they are resentful because Americans *are* held accountable in other countries. And maybe we deserve to be, since we at least get to vote here. Not everyone gets that though.

Anyway, I digress. If you ask your friend what she was thinking, she'll probably tell you she thought it was funny without considering the graver consequences of what she's proposing. People mostly only see the obvious inconveniences to themselves, not the mass graves, starvation, political prisoners, politically motivated disappearances, adultery stonings, clitorodectomies and other atrocities in other countries. They think subsistence living means only being able to pay the mortgage and buy groceries.

If you actually called your friend on this stuff with a little educational material in hand, you might be doing more good than just calling her a hypocrite--which we all are in some way or another. If you gave her some information on living conditions, female genital manipulation or suicide bombers who are intimidated into activities to avoid harm to their families, you might get a better reaction than just calling her on her hypocrisy, which will just make her defensive.

If you can educate her gently enough that she doesn't quite realize it, she might even pass some of it on.

Wow, this got a little long. My own blog has been broken for two days now and I can’t post anything new. Apparently I’m suffering from withdrawal:)


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