Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where Are Our Spines?

Yesterday I pulled a Sound Byte for the show from "Real Time with Bill Maher". It was said by, you guessed it, Comedian Bill Maher. Here it is:


It's 1:41 in length. Just watch the whole thing.

So the key moment obviously is Maher's calling Christians people who "hate charity and love killing." And a "faith based lynch mob."

I'm a Christian. I certainly don't hate charity, absolutely don't love killing, and feel that calling the entire religion a "faith based lynch mob" is a bit of a dirty generalization. I know a lot of Christians who aren't the tpes of Christian people like Maher think they are.

But here's my actual point.

Who cares?

I can think of a lot of Christians who would be offended by this, sure, but Bill's a comedian. He's telling a joke. I'm not personally a huge fan of the guy but I respect his line of work because I also consider it my own. It's comedy.

The issue with the Nation in recent times hasn't become an increase in our spewing of hate speech, that's been around since the beginning of time, we've just got a delightfully modern media network to remind us of its presence on a 24/7 basis. The real problem has quickly become an increase in our inability to have a little self confidence, to be self assured. We're losing our spines. So many are too antsy to jump the gun and pounce on any form of speech that seeks to get a rise out of us and make some big media firestorm out of it.

I'm not saying we should let everything slide, but you know what, people are people. They say hateful things sometimes, in fact, comedians even say mean things in a joking way to get laughs and, you guessed it, ratings and publicity. But instead of focusing on being offended and traveling further down the trail of being sue happy and overly sensitive, why aren't we focusing on what really counts; how to be happy.

You know the ye olde saying, turn the other cheek, etc. etc. That's hard to do, trust me, I know, I get it. But how often do you lay your head down on the pillow at night and lose sleep over something someone said to you, about you, or about a community you belong to? I mean you seriously stayed awake because you couldn't let it go. On the flip side, how often does someone say something mean or hateful and you hit the hay resting easy because you know, in your heart of hearts; how much damage can jerkoffs like this ACTUALLY do to your spirit?


We need to stop focusing our energies on counter attacks and focus it inward, on strengthening our spines and standing up. Someone with a weak spine walks around hunched over, someone with a strong one walks around upright and tall.

Remember when our parents told us to ignore the bullies and they'd go away? Or the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me"? I get that these are a little cliché, but a cliché is what it is because there's truth to it. It wouldn't last as long as it does unless it made some sense right?

If someone shows you intolerance and you show it back, what does that bespeak of you to the rest of the world? They'll see you as intolerant. Some might think it's just, but those that do will suffer from a warped sense of justice defined by you and your actions or people like you. Sure you're getting revenge on the person who offended you, but what are you doing truly? If your desire is to promote peace and awareness, do you think you'll do so effectively by taking an eye for an eye?

If someone shows you inolerance and in return you show tolerance, now that takes guts. Taking them to court is a waste of time and money.  All because they hurt your feelings? I don't mean to make excuses for people who say horrible things, but why are you giving them what they want? Their fires are fueled by our giving them the reactions they want. Once we've done that they've won. It's as simple as that.

But what does it take to make you sure about yourself? Yes, it is difficult to turn the other cheek, but imagine what you'll do if you address the issue in a public way without practicing hate speech yourself.

To be perfectly honest, I would say that it's becoming harder and harder to call myself a Christian. There's this weird hate going on out there in our politically correct society that demands we respect the minority and show some odd sense of contempt for the majority. If someone is a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Muslim, Jewish, Athiest, Agnostic, etc. then we'd better hold our tongues. It's hate speech if we make jokes on their behalf (unless of course we belong to them), but it's A-Okay if we jokingly ridicule the masses because screw-em', they're all hateful, bigoted, lynch mobs who vote Republican and love money.

Come on. We're not all the same. You should know that better than anyone. We're all our own individuals and differ from everyone else on many levels. But rather than moan and complain that we should be allowed to make fun of those in minorities, why don't we just seek to stop it altogether? Because the fact of the matter is, at our core, we're all human being. There is no minority, there is no race, there is only the human race and that includes all of us. And the best place to start spreading peace is within yourself. For what shines bright within you will surely shine bright without you.

Why is it okay to stick up for certain groups and popular to shun others? And why is society allowing this? People are going to be Democrat and people are going to be Republican. People are going to be Religious and people are going to be Athiest. So some people are going to have differing opinions, that's life, suck it up and deal with it. Stop taking things personally. No one's looking through the lens of the camera and calling you out. They may be calling you to a challenge, but the real challenge is addressing the issue while simultaneously showing love for that person. Talk about how to blow some minds.

Nothing feels better than when someone attacks your beliefs or way of life and you walk away unscathed because there is no doubt in your mind about who you are. If you feel threatened, legitimately, then it may be time to reassess. Only the threatened respond with threats. Believe me, people do take notice of those who are right with themselves. That MUST be step one. If you spend all your time trying to solve the woes of the world and take not a minute to solve the woes of yourself, you'll never reach your goal. There will always be problems in the world, but there doesn't always have to be problems within you. You'll be of much better use to the world if you know who you are, what you stand for, and how to successfully go about doing it.

Don't be silent to injustice, to the ailments of your life, but understand that the best way to combat these is with a little self confidence. Sticks and stones may break your bones but a strong spine makes you stand tall and is good for your brain and thus, your life. (Or something smart and witty like that.)

If we complain all the time, we'll never learn anything and we force others to comply with our, sometimes, ridiculous demands. Look life's hard, we all know, and people can be nasty, but some days you've just got to bite the bullet, take one for the team, and suck it up. There's a time for sensitivity and there's a time for strength. I'm telling you that both are important but one is used as a crutch more than the other. Take a wild guess as to which.

And boom goes the 21st Century.


  1. Well said, Will. Maher is a troll, just like Olbermann, Hannity, Limbaugh, Maddow, Beck and many others. They make money by throwing Molotov cocktails all day every day, no matter who it hurts. I don't give any of them the time of day. On the other hand, I'm happy to talk about my thoughts on issues if someone really wants to...but most people just want to parrot what their favorite talking head said anyone. This stuff isn't worth fighting about. We're humans first, Americans second, and partisans third. And Christians have a higher calling than Americanism or conservatism or progressivism. We're citizens of another kingdom entirely, called to love as we were loved (sacrificially). It hurts to hear the bashing...but it's usually untrue. We've got a lot more important things to worry about. Angry and condescending as he might be...Bill Maher is a person like any other, and someone for whom Christ died. Remember, Saul/Paul was KILLING Christians before he got it together, and he wrote most of the New Testament. Prayer and love are better responses than any other to these kinds of attacks...and a ready answer for those who are legitimately curious.

  2. Wills, you know that I think you're an intelligent and insightful person, and that certainly comes through in your writing, which I will have to read more often. I'm not going to defend Maher either, he's a jackass, but I will say that the Christian majority in this country has done quite a bit to garner this sort of attitude. I'm an athiest Jew, there's a lot more of us than you'd expect, lol, and I often legitimately fear telling people of my beliefs. Reactions like his come from fear. I know that there are good Christians out there, I've met many. But the Christian "leaders" such as vocal pundits, politicians, and evangelists, who unfortunately represent your faith, as well as a large number of Christians who believe what they say, have not made an atmosphere of love or acceptance. Maher's jabs are an extremist view, but the Christian faith, in particular, wields a lot of political power, and not very often to do good. Prop 8 here in California was an excellent example of religion attempting to legislate hate. I don't see any other explanation. Furthermore, few religions still surviving have historically been as fantastically violent as the Christian faith. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, all carried out in Christianity's name, and all, at the time, sanctioned by the majority within that faith. They put great minds to death for thinking critically about the world around them, like Galileo. The current incarnation of the faith is walking that line now, I believe. For a long time, people have been ignoring Christianity's fundamentally good tenets.

    That said, I completely agree with everything you said in your post. If there were more Christians in the world with your outlook, willing to look at themselves and accept others for who they are, and who really acted upon it, I wouldn't be so afraid of them. It's unfortunate that common sense and a message of moderation and thought is a lot less appealing to most than a fire-and-brimstone, violent approach.

  3. Woo, not death there for Galileo. Imprisonment for life. Remember to check wikipedia whenever citing history, lol.

  4. Josh, thanks for your kind words. Everything you described is really what I'm looking to fight against. I know the violent past, present, and future of my faith and it disheartens me to think that such things have, are, and will be done in the name of "love". You're spot on. But I think for me, like you mentioned, what's difficult is being lumped into the group and disregarded because of the title of "Christian." Now I'm not saying everyone does this, but my hope is that just as we try to urge close minded Christians to have open minds about possibilities (I feel like I'm doing this all the time), I hope that the growing groups of those who passionately dislike Christianity do the same. And I hope everyone in their daily lives takes everything with a grain of salt. I'd have beers with Bill Maher because I'd love to be in conversation with that guy just to get a sense for his honest viewpoints and why he thinks the way he does. I just hope he, and people like him, could say the same about us.

    I hope soon you don't feel like you have to be afraid to speak on your thoughts and beliefs. Especially don't be afraid of people who claim to be tolerant and loving and are the opposite. They live for Dogma and utilize a warped rhetoric created by men for men and sold to them as if it came from the lips of God. Don't be afraid of these people, they're more misled than many people on earth. THe saddest part is, they'll never know it.

  5. Agreed. I've been guilty more than once of lumping Christians together, and that's wrong. I do think it would be nice if everyone, on both sides, just settled down a bit. Fervent belief in anything, to the complete disregard of all other ideas, and an urge to call anyone else's belief structure wrong, is the core problem. Both hardcore atheists and fundamentalist Christians are guilty of that.

    Speaking to your second paragraph there, I hope there's a time like that too, but I don't see it happening soon. Some of these people are not misled, they are corrupt, or outright evil. I've been physically attacked because of my disclosure of religion. I've met people who would wish me dead, actually follow through with it, if they just knew that one thing about my life. And more than that... when you disclose that you're not a Christian, you run the risk of always becoming "different". Even good people, people who have always been friends, will still always see me as "their Jewish friend". Now, more often than not, people either don't care, or it's something I can brush off, but I always run the risk. It's things like this that create that feeling of aggression and dislike of the majority. I'm not justifying anything; just explaining my experience. I do hope that eventually, maybe in the next few generations, things will get better. And in the meantime, we minority groups SHOULD be held to the same standards as far as discrimination and bigotry towards the majority. But it may be a long time before people like me stop feeling like outsiders so often.

  6. I absolutely get where you're coming from and I hate that you have to be in that position. That's kind of my biggest hope with this blog, and my life in general. We may never see peace in our time, but dammit at least we can say we never quit fighting for it.