Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's the good word?

Be certain to partake of the good things in life, and don't forget to share them.

DB - The Vagabond
"I will pray for you." Too often that statement has a wicked dirt road of sarcasm under it. I don't like your religion, I don't like your politics, I don't like your life style, I don't like your sexual behavior, I don't like how you live, I don't like where you are coming from, I don't like how you make a living, I don't like your choice of music, I don't like your choice of ball team, I don't like anything about you, I don't like you, I hate you, but I love you so "I will pray for you."

"He's black but nice." Here was a Protestant Sunday School teacher genuinely grappling with a deep prejudice against and suspicion of black people. Because of my liberalism he came to me for advice. "He's black but nice." I told him that the first thing he had to do was to permanently erase from his vocabulary the phrase "block but nice." I reminded him that there are nice black people and nasty black people just like there are nice white people and nasty white people. He and his wife had the black "but nice" couple over for dinner and then were invited to the other house for dinner. He told me about that and the discomfort was palpable.

"He's a Jew but he's not typical, you know what I mean?" Three college friends sitting on the banks of the Charles River in Boston. One of them is Jewish, the other two are not. The other two are trying to explain to the Jewish boy the difference between being a Jew and being Jewish. The Jewish boy is listening politely with a smile on his face. It's clear the two authorities haven't the faintest idea of what it is like to be Jewish. No prejudice here is there?

I asked a Protestant pastor's daughter what she would do if she met a Muslim. Her answer was "Convert them." (I will pray for you.)

Don't get me started on political beliefs. The point is made.

So what are the good things in life? Whatever they are they are covered over and smothered by prejudice, intolerance, injustice and ignorance. But with the advent of international communication the cultures of the whole world are open to the whole world. Sure there are many things going on that are distasteful to me. I'm not going to eat a dog, watch a bullfight, slaughter a camel with an axe or throw stones at an adulteress. I don't partake of them. I partake of the good things: African music, Arab dancers, Flamenco, Mariachi, I was very grateful to Sol Hurok when he brought the Kabuki, the traditional Japanese theatre, to New York. When I went to see it I thought I knew theatre. Watching those performers changed my life as an actor. There is enlightenment to be gained from the art, music and literature of the world whether it's across the sea or down the street. The good things in life will tread on the scorpions of religious and political fanaticism.

We will never make the whole world America, but we can make America more like the world by embracing the good things in it without prejudice and fear and sharing the good things we have with the world. I know there is a machinery of prejudice against that idea but the time is coming and now is when that machine should be dismantled.

The ballet dancer from Moscow had it right when he asked an American critic why he referred to "Soviet dancers" and "Russian tanks" when it should have been the other way around.

DB - The Vagabond


(This is not a contest.)

Who are the 2 (two) most important people alive today? Why?

Only 5 responses so far.


Thank you.


pacifica62 said...

What we fear we try to destroy.
*sigh* how wonderful it would be to have the machine of prejudice dismantled. Is there no tolerance or compassion left in America anymore? No willingness to learn about and accept other cultures, countries or customs. Why are people so afraid of something different and why are some people so willing to provoke violence, ignorance and mistrust because of it. Compared to the country it used to be, America today is almost totally unrecognizable to the rest of the world. Unfortuantely that is not a "good word".

Anonymous said...

Many years ago my father was told that he was very clean for an Italian. He thought that was hysterical & he used to repeat that to everyone. ~Mary

Liz said...

"We will never make the whole world America"

Tell that to your leaders and maybe when they understand that they do not have overwhelming power but totally underwhelming democracy is within their grasp they will seek a different way to teach their philosophy. That is if they still believe in freedom...

Rose said...

Great post!

Beth said...

I love this, D. You highlight the passive-aggressiveness of bigotry and hatred perfectly. Anytime that someone follows a kind word with "but," chances are good that it's going to be unpleasant.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

"But" should be a limited use word in our language and our nation.

a simple woman said...

funny, when I say "I'll pray for you" it doesn't have a wicked dirt road of sarcasm under it......I genuinely pray......