Last week Tulsa was ringing with the news of a guy climbing a radio tower. He stayed up there for six days, complete with a crowd of gawkers, his own Facebook group and eventually nonstop television coverage. He's a young guy, with a lot against him: black, poor, a history of mental illness, and an unfortunate police record. He's obviously a criminal with his first citation, driving left of center.
Anyway, I don't know him personally, and I have no idea of his health status, his financial status, or his moral status. Most people on Facebook probably don't know either, but there were no qualms to labeling him. Names such as 'freak', 'weirdo', 'waste of tax dollars'.
The reason I'm blogging about this is because I am SO tired of reading those comments. I have a daughter with disabilities, and I know how it feels to have an issue out of personal control for which you are judged. I've walked through the mall and had adults and teens point and laugh at her. I've heard the not-so-quiet whispers about how stupid she looks, about her clothes not being cool, about her hair not being feminine, about her voice being too loud. I've seen her face crumple in sadness as she overhears someone making fun of her...an entire trip ruined because people are so judgmental and ugly.
Regularly you can read hurtful comments about people with disabilities or mental illness that make others uncomfortable. People don't like having their Normal contested, they like being comfortable right in the middle. Almost worst are the patronizing comments about the cute people with disabilities...the little mascots that people adopt to make themselves feel better about the walls they've thrown up to divide. I say almost worst, because for some reason it's okay, it's positive attention, so patronizing and belittling is okay. But if you're uncomfortable, suddenly they're freaks. They're unpredictable, so they're weirdos. They don't live according to your lifestyle, so they're a waste of tax dollars. They need a lot of extra help...and our society is set up to divide, not bring together.
The deacon at church today said that Jesus told the disciples to not tell anyone he was the Messiah...mostly because He wanted to chance to work outside of the expectations that others had for Him. We're called to work outside of our expectations, and by His example, expected to refrain from labeling others. We're called to work with the unexpected, the unpredictable, the people that mainstream society wants to throw away. For all that Jesus Messiah is calling us to do, take a breath. Step back from your judgments. Be willing to open your heart and love those who are different than you.