Saturday, July 18, 2015

All in this together

Denying individuality

We live in an age when everyone, whether enthusiastically or grudgingly, gives at least lip service to diversity. Most people acknowledge diversity as a strength, others may claim they find it excessively politically correct, but a surprisingly large number of people seem to forget all about it in certain venues. I notice it all the time, like when it happened multiple times at a series of seminars earlier this year. How often have you heard speakers address groups with remarks like these?
Sometimes you just need a beer, right?
No. Never. I belong to the approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population that eschews alcohol. The man extolling the virtues of beer had about one hundred people in his audience, so about a dozen people were left out of his all-encompassing declaration. He probably never considered saying, “You know, I really need a beer sometimes.” Even the handful of nondrinkers could have chuckled in sympathy with that remark.
Last night, of course, we were all watching the game!
No, I wasn't. I'm not even sure what game you're talking about. It's even worse when the speaker wants us to cheer for a particular team. Not everyone is fascinated by sports teams.
Just think back to your senior prom!
I didn't bother to go. I didn't bother with the junior prom, either. Not my thing.

Then there's funerals. Nothing beats the last rites for unleashing mandatory group-think, whether you're inclined to go along or not.
We can all take comfort in the thought that she's in a better place now. She and her late husband are together again.
People try to coerce you into prayer. They inflict inane pieties on you and prate about an afterlife. It is, of course, the maximally inappropriate venue to insist on dissent. No individuals are allowed.


Kathie said...

Actually, I've read that something like 1/3 of American adults refrain from alcohol. Don't know whether that statistic is accurate (although it includes a sizable number who abstain due for religious reasons), but it certainly includes you and me and several other of my friends.

Re "She and her late husband are together again": That's technically true to the extent that they're both dead, and quite likely their (c)remains are in the same place.

Kathie said...

Got to talking with spouse tonight re remarks, and came up with a few of our own.

We all remember being elected to our high school Honor Society? Winning a ribbon at the regional science fair? And being chosen to play the concerto solo at music camp?
How about being elected top FFA student in high school all four years (well OK, that one was HIS)?

Gene O'Pedia said...

You can include me in the 87% who partake of alcohol, but I'm definitely not in the majority for watching games, going to high school proms, and praying. But one difference between me and Zeno is that I'M SMART ENOUGH TO KEEP QUIET ABOUT IT!!! Hah, really. Why give more excuses to be pilloried in the public square?

The few times I've gone to a funeral or memorial, I have to fight hard not to bow my head when a minister commands us all to do so. Then I'm stuck looking around the room, wondering what I'm supposed to do when everyone else is staring at their own feet. Of course, there's usually one or even a few people doing exactly the same as I, a small band of infidels among the dutifully pious.

As for sports, I think that's even a tougher game than religion. John Lennon dared to remark that the Beatles were probably more popular among the young than was Jesus Christ. I will second that and speculate that televised sports today engenders far more faith and support among its flocks than do all the religions of the world combined.

But don't get me started!

Kathie said...

At least we're past the "If you've got 'em, smoke 'em" mindset.

Gene, if the god-squad were really sneaky, they'd designate a spy at each such event to look around and spot those not bowing their heads, in order to identify targets for future proselytizing. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure they're not smart enough.

Zeno said...

Did you ever read Children of Dune, Kathie? Perhaps you remember this:

The human sea emitted a sound like the hiss of a giant sandworm as Jessica emerged. She raised her arms in the benedictory to which the priesthood had conditioned the Imperium. With significant pockets of tardiness, but still like one giant organism, the people sank to their knees.

The "pockets of tardiness" are noted, rounded up, and eliminated. Some are dispatched so promptly that their bodies are left bleeding into the sand before the welcoming crowd even disperses.

Very efficient.

Kathie said...

Nope, not a fan of sci fi, fantasy, etc.

In the wake of last night's movie theater shooting rampage, the Louisiana governor's public announcement was, "Now is the time for prayer..." I call "bovine effluent" on that!

Kathie said...

Remember during the 2008 Presidential campaign when Sarah Palin praised teachers by saying that they would receive their reward "in the next life" -- the most reasonable inference being that she opposed their being rewarded appropriately "in this life"?

Theo Bromine said...

A while ago, I went to a friend's son's Catholic wedding a few years ago, where there was not only bowing of heads and closing of eyes but also kneeling. I was surreptitiously glancing around to see who else was declining to participate, and noted that some of these included the uncle of the groom (raised Catholic), and the grandparents of the groom (Jewish, though possibly only culturally). As for my lack of conformity being noticed by the observant, as far as I am concerned, they are supposed to be paying attention to their deity during that time, not looking around to see who the infidels are, so if anyone challenged me as to why I didn't have my head bowed and eyes closed I could confidently say that it was because I am an atheist, then ask them what their excuse was.

(On a much sadder occasion, I recently attended a memorial service (at a funeral chapel) for a 12-year-old who had committed suicide. His parents were estranged; his father (my friend) was an atheist, but his mother was Christian. The officiant did a reasonable job of acknowledging the non-believers in the congregation, making clear that though everyone was invited to join the group prayers, people who did not believe should not feel obligated to participate.)