Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On the Subject of Overcompensation

I hesitate to even write about this subject, fearful it will unnecessarily hurt friends and allies who mean well and have always been supportive. Before I write another word, I want to briefly note how much I appreciate the tea and sympathy granted me by those who read my posts, the vast majority of whom I have never and may never meet in person. Believing fully that the personal is always political, I have often talked about myself and my own life in unflinching detail. Aside from a few stray trolls that are always present with anyone who dares to put themselves out there to any degree, comments and commentary have been gratifying and helpful.

Sometimes these remarks, affirming as they are, show an slightly obsessive degree of conveying acceptance and tolerance. Not always, but on occasion. Sometimes they amuse me. For example, should I reveal that I am bisexual, feedback often takes this course. You’re bisexual! I know someone who is bisexual! You know it’s okay to be bisexual! Lots of people are bisexual! Did you know that (insert name of famous person) was also bisexual? I affirm your right to be openly bisexual! I often wondered if I was bisexual!

All of this is appreciated, but I sometimes can’t help but laugh at the slightly manic enthusiasm discomfort creates. Should you wish, laugh along with me and know that my laughter is light-hearted and warm, not mirthful or accusatory. I think perhaps if my parents had been accepting and not homophobic, this could have been their own response. It’s a much healthier variety, certainly, than that of my own personal experience. Overcompensation is a step on the road to greater understanding and comprehension. It is much more advanced than bigotry or prejudice, for sure.

But it still connotes a sense of difference, of perceiving ways we are not alike rather than similar. Peaceful co-existence is a laudable enough goal, and I much prefer it to hatred and fear. Still, and this is the religious side of me talking, I believe in a world where love unites all of us together. Idealistic though it is, I would not work so hard at what I do, or write, or regularly propose if I believed it was a lost cause. It may be bigger than me, but I know I have a role in the proceedings. This realization begins when we see common humanity instead of race, skin color, sexual orientation, gender identification, political allegiance, religious affiliation, or any dividing or isolating factor. We will always have superficial points of divergence, but seeking that which lies inside of our hearts is where our attention should be focused most of all.

I carry with me every day a particular verse to which I frequently refer, should I be struggling with self-doubt or disillusion.

Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female.

This is the ideal. This is the standard. Remove the reference to Jesus, and, though I may not necessarily be writing to a religious audience, few would disagree with the sentiment. And yet look at how many people over the years have claimed to speak in Jesus’ name, only to pervert and adulterate the message. This is unavoidable, I’m afraid. So long as there is money to be made or power to be gained, the truth we’ve spoken always runs the risk of being twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, as Kipling wrote. Know this much. Keep speaking truth anyway. Never confuse the messenger with the message, in whatever belief or cause you hold dear.

Many of our arguments quibble over little things, because this approach is less potentially painful than actually confronting the larger issues underneath them. Seek the real source and you’ll find humanity in all its vulnerable, fragile, beautiful, confounding, contradictory glory. The human condition, as I may have mentioned before, is itself a massive book full of personal anecdotes, each about the lives of people struggling to overcome adversity. In all that we do and say and act, we are steadily contributing our own chapter to that book. And as you write your own, take comfort that everyone else out there is doing the same thing you are. Separation is merely an illusion.

1 comment:

Faded said...

beautiful and wise