The Marginalization of the Average Joe and Practice of Selective Compassion by Christian and Secular Americans
I think conservative writer Ann Coulter’s editorial about Christians who shuffle off to assist ebola patients in Africa – which got her all sorts of vitriol by both left and right wingers, Christians and Non Christians – has been proven right.
I first wrote about that in another post or two:
- (Link): Ann Coulter’s Very Accurate Ebola Post Being Criticized As Being Insensitive – But It’s Not; It’s Accurate
After American, caucasian movie actor Robin Williams died from suicide a few days ago, on the one hand, there was, yes, a lot of sympathy and sadness expressed for him and his family online in the days that followed, as it should be.
But there were also some very insulting, unsympathetic views published, and at that, based on William’s skin color or his mental health problems, not only by guys like Bill McNorris and Christian Matt Walsh, but by atheist writer P Z Myers.
As far as I can tell, the Bible does not adhere to the concept of “privilege” as believed by liberals. The American progressives harping on “privilege” causes them to refuse to show care and concern for the groups they believe to be in power.
Jesus Christ taught that people’s sins comes from their hearts (from within), not from their environment, and he did not endorse the view that because you or your group has been systematically mistreated or oppressed at the hands of another group, that this excuses your sin, or makes it acceptable for you to hate your oppressor, or for you to refuse to show compassion to that group.
In Jesus’ day, ancient Israel was ruled first and foremost by the ancient Romans, and on a lesser level, by the religious ruling class (the priests and Pharisees).
A lot of American liberals will say it’s impossible for an American woman to be considered sexist, or for female dislike of men to be considered sexist, because men in American society hold all the power. They will say that because whites held all the power in the USA, that one cannot consider a black person’s prejudices against whites a form of racism.
Then we also get into the identity politics and hate crime laws, where liberals believe that someone should receive a harsher, or specific charge of hate, for, say, mugging someone in a certain group that they consider unprivileged.
For example, a crime that is motivated by hatred of skin color, where a white guy punches a black guy in the face, is supposed to be worse than, say, a white guy punching another white guy. A guy murdering someone who happens to be homosexual is supposed to be a hate crime, but the same act is not considered a hate crime if a homosexual or heterosexual murders a heterosexual guy.
I have never understood these positions, because, for one reason of a few, it doesn’t square with the Bible.
Jesus never once taught the Jews of his day that it’s okay for them to hate the Romans, nor did he excuse their dislike of the Romans, on the premise that the Romans held all the “privilege” or “power.”
At one point, Christ taught (from Matthew Ch 5),
- If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.
More information on that:
- The verse is a reference to the practice of “impressment” which, among other things, allowed a Roman soldier to conscript a Jewish native to carry his equipment for one Roman mile (milion = 1,000 paces, about 1,611 yards or 1,473 metres) — no easy task considering a Roman soldier’s backpack could weigh upwards of 100 pounds (45.4 kg).
Jesus’ point was that his followers must relinquish their individual “rights” in order to advance God’s kingdom through self-sacrifice. (Source)
From another page:
- If a Roman soldier saw a Jewish man or boy, he could command the man or boy to carry his backpack or burden for a mile. The Jewish boy or man was required by law to carry this soldier’s burden for a mile. However, most Jews would not carry this burden one inch or one foot further than the law required. This law caused terrible resentment among the Jews toward the Roman government.
Can you imagine how the Jews felt when Jesus said, “Go the second mile?” No doubt, the audience said, “He must be jesting.” “Does he really expect us to do more than the law requires us to do?” In essence, Jesus was saying that his disciples need to do more than the legalists who do no more than what is required of them.
What is the principle of the second mile? It is to do more than is required or expected of us. Jesus is saying that any pagan or unsaved person can go one mile (5:46,47). The first mile is to love those who love us. The second mile is to love those who do not love us.
… Secondly, the second mile is the commitment mile. We go the first mile out of legalism but continue the second mile out of love. In order to live like Jesus, we must go the second mile when we experience personal degradation (Matt. 5:38,39). The first mile is to give place to revenge, but the second mile is to give place to love.
I have noticed in American culture, both with some Non Christians, but certainly with Christians, that love and compassion are doled out only to groups that these individuals deem worthy. And only very narrow types of people or suffering make it to the list.
I’ve blogged on this in a handful of posts before. I’d rather choose to focus on Christians in this post than upon liberal Democrats, who are just absolutely steeped in talk of identity politics and privilege, where they seem to consider some people of more value than others, and hence, more worthy of compassion.
The normal course of action for American Christians is to only care about suffering in third world nations.
If U.S. Christians do pay any attention or concern to their fellow suffering Americans, it generally only falls under the same 3 – 5 groups, which normally include homeless people; drug/alcohol addicts; women who work as strippers; abused or homeless people in homeless shelters or who live on the streets.
As I’ve also discussed on this blog before, American Christians tend to be either terribly ignorant about mental health problems or very judgmental and harsh in regards to. I’ll return to this topic in a few moments.
American Churches will trip all over themselves to support – emotionally and financially – married couples, but they will ignore adult singles.
For some reason, many evangelical (and other types of) Christians presume that married couples (especially ones with children at home) deserve more love, help, and consideration than childless couples or single adults (whether single due to never having married, being divorced, or widowed).
I want to explain again, I don’t mind that Christians of whatever skin color, want to help people of whatever skin color or nationality. I don’t mind that Christians want to give free shoes to orphans, free sandwiches to homeless alcoholics who live on the street, and what have you. Those are all fine acts of compassion.
It’s not that I am against Christians helping these groups but that they consistently downplay or ignore the suffering of people who don’t meet the approved, specific criteria of Persons Who Deserve Help and Compassion.
If you’re an American Christian or an American Non Christian, yet you don’t fall under the headings of
- 1. Starving African orphan / African ebola patient
2. woman working in strip club
3. Homeless person on the streets who is strung out on crack
good luck getting encouragement, help, or compassion from most Americans, especially Christian ones.
The average American Christian will step over the hurting middle class American who is in emotional pain because his four year old was just diagnosed with brain cancer in order to skip merrily down the road to get on a plane to fly to Africa to act as nursemaid for some African people she’s never met.
I don’t understand how a person can blithely dismiss the suffering of the guy sitting right beside them to run off and help a bunch of other people in another part of town or another nation, especially ones they don’t even know.
It also kind of reminds me of “one uppers.” That is, people who have to compete with your suffering and make theirs sound worse.
If you’ve ever come into your workplace with a broken arm, wearing a cast and your boss tells you, “That’s nothing. I lost both my legs in a woodchipper in 1967, had to learn to walk on pegs. Your broken arm is not as serious as my missing legs. Then, in a trip to the everglades, an alligator ripped my left arm off. Your broken arm is NOTHING.” -then you have encountered a one upper.
Americans have a tendency to rank suffering and then only determine to give so much time or attention to the groups that they feel are “deserving.”
If you are an Average Joe and you’ve gone to a Christian in time of crisis seeking help or comfort, and they have brushed you off by saying things like, “Go volunteer in soup kitchen, seeing those less fortunate than yourself will make you realize how blessed you are,” or, “Just think of how much better you have life than African orphans,” you know exactly what I am talking about.
As far as movie actor Robin Williams is concerned, blogger Matt Walsh, who happens to be a white, Christian guy, wrote a piece that was pretty insensitive about suicide. I wrote about it here:
The title of Walsh’s first post about William’s suicide was,
“Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice”
Walsh thinks suicide is pure choice and happens in a vacuum, when it’s pretty obvious to most everybody else (except the people who agreed with Walsh) that there is a reason, or combination of reasons, that may cause a person to take his own life, including depression.
You will notice many conservative Christians will cry rivers of tears for the starving African orphaned children they see on TV, with the flies buzzing around their heads and their potbellies on display. Some of these Christians will be moved to mail donations to the Christian shows that televise these kids.
Most Christians, for some reason, understand physical suffering just fine – hunger in this case, in my previous example – but have zero sympathy for people, like Robin Williams who become so depressed and upset with life circumstances, that he feels his only solution is to die by suicide.
Christians even step all over themselves to play the “blame game” and somehow blame guys like Robin Williams for his very pain. I usually don’t see Christians blaming ineffective African governments or whatever, on the many images of starving African kids I see on my TV everyday.
The double standard is odd. Christians will blame some people for their type of suffering, but not others.
Then there is this – from the blog “The Friendly Atheist,”
- by Terry Firma
I’m not exactly Mr. Sunshine, so you might think the curmudgeonly grousing of atheist blogger P.Z. Myers would resonate with me.
It rarely does, and yesterday I was reminded why. In writing about the suicide of comedian Robin Williams, Myers went from prickly to prickish in three seconds flat. Under the telling headline Robin Williams Brings Joy to the Hearts of Journalists and Politicians Once Again, Myers sneered that
[Williams’] sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.
Myers was referring to the killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, this past weekend.
Boy, I hate to say it, but it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction.
If that sounds cold and dismissive, that’s because it is.
Getting pissy over Williams’ death as if it’s an irrelevant distraction is one thing (stunningly tone-deaf, of course, but rationally defensible); but the phrase “wealthy white man” is a gratuitous, sour putdown in this context. I have no idea why Williams deserved that.
Myers is angry that Brown’s death was supposedly wiped off the front pages by Williams’. That simply isn’t true. Every major news organization I checked has already put out multiple stories about the troubling shooting, and the Brown case will no doubt fill dozens more news cycles in months to come, whereas remembrances of Williams will be petering out in another week.
… It’s astonishing that, in Myers’ perspective, we apparently cannot give our attention to more than one story.
So, because a black teenager was killed in an American city this means that nobody should feel sorrow or compassion to a white man who was in a lot of emotional pain (ie, Robin Williams)?
So, black life is more worthy than white life? I don’t agree (I also do not believe that white life is more worthy than black life.)
Then there were several headlines like this one that kept popping up in the news:
- By Lenny Bernstein and Lena H. Sun
- August 12 2014
If you tried to create a profile of someone at high risk of committing suicide, one likely example would look like this: A middle-aged or older white male toward the end of a successful career, who suffers from a serious medical problem as well as chronic depression and substance abuse, who recently completed treatment for either or both of those psychological conditions and who is going through a difficult period, personally or professionally.
… Men account for only about 20 percent of suicide attempts but represent about 80 percent of completed suicides, statistics show, almost certainly because they choose more lethal methods: guns and leaps from high places instead of drug overdoses, Ongur said.
… Beyond the mechanics of suicide lies a variety of risk factors that predispose men, particularly middle-aged men, to suicide, experts said.
“Men are much less likely to seek help than women are,” said Michelle Cornette, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology. And “apart from seeking help professionally, [men] utilize their friendships in different ways. Men are less likely to disclose to a male friend that they are struggling psychologically.”
Oh, but we cannot have compassion because these are old white guys, and lots of them are financially secure, too! And they are privileged, so who cares?
This is just a recurring theme I see in secular American society and in churches, that believes, “we will only have compassion on groups we prefer to other groups (especially groups we hate or considered privileged). Further, we will rank suffering based on our prejudiced ideas of what type of suffering is worse than other types – like cancer is far worse than clinical depression, so we will ignore or insult anyone who comes to us for help over clinical depression.”
I see these attitudes and rationalizations constantly in American culture, and I find it appalling and baffling.
EDIT. My views further confirmed:
“Drug addicts and alcoholics are always, ‘The world is a harsh place.’ My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear f**k all about “the world as a harsh place.” She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life,” the 64-year-old told SongFacts.com. “And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.’ F**k you, then kill yourself.”
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop there. “I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, ‘That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump,'” Simmons continued. “Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the f**k up, have some dignity and jump! You’ve got the crowd.”
His timing couldn’t be worse seeing as the beloved Robin Williams committed suicide on Monday after years of struggling with depression himself. Needless to say, Simmons’ remarks were not so well received, especially by one of his fellow rockers.
… Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx, 55, commented on the shocking quotes during his radio showSixx Sense, saying, “I like Gene. But in this situation, I don’t like Gene. I don’t like Gene’s words. There is a 20-year-old kid out there who is a KISS fan and reads this and goes, ‘You know what? He’s right. I should just kill myself.'”
He added, “For people who are depressed, there is a way out. There are many, many ways out…Don’t listen to people who don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Simmons, speaking with Songfacts.com July 31, shared a dismissive attitude toward those with suicidal tendencies, trumpeting himself as one to “call them on their bluff.”
The question was posed, “Do you still get along with the original guys?” To which Simmons answers, “No, I don’t get along with anybody who’s a drug addict and has a dark cloud over their head and sees themselves as a victim. Drug addicts and alcoholics are always: ‘The world is a harsh place.’
“My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear fuck all about ‘the world as a harsh place.’ She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life. And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.’ Fuck you, then kill yourself.”
He continues, “I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, ‘That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump.’ Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the fuck up, have some dignity and jump! You’ve got the crowd. By the way, you walk up to the same guy on a ledge who threatens to jump and put a gun to his head, ‘I’m going to blow your fuckin’ head off!’ He’ll go, ‘Please don’t!’ It’s true. He’s not that insane.”
… The timing of Simmons’ published comments, however, is particularly insensitive coming as they do just days after the suicide of comic great Robin Williams. Williams had battled with depression, and drug addiction (Simmons paid his respects to the actor with an Aug. 12 tweet that read: “R.I.P. Robin Williams. A kind and generous man”).
Nikki Sixx, the bass player with Motley Crue, called out Simmons on his Sixx Sense radio show. “Gene is basically saying he has no sympathy for drug addicts or people who are depressed,” he says. “I’m a recovering drug addict. If I had done what Gene Simmons said and that is to jump, so many wonderful things would have not happened in my life. We’ve just lost Robin Williams.
He dealt with drug addiction and mainly depression. When I was young, I was depressed, drugs helped me suppress that. I came from a messed up situation not unlike a lot of people.
There’s almost 15 million American that are depressed.
Gene Simmons says I should have just killed myself…15 million people should just kill themselves?” Simmons is “pretty moronic” he adds. “To be honest with you, I like Gene, but in this situation, I don’t like Gene. I don’t like Gene’s words, because … there is a 20-year-old kid out there who is a Kiss fan and reads this and goes, ‘You know what? He’s right. I should just kill myself’.”
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