I was about 17 years old when it happened. I was sitting in the car with my mom as we were leaving work. I got a job with her, at a Christian publishing house in the Midwest.
One of the people we worked was a single lady in her thirties that was in some sort of personal crisis all the time. At work that day, she had told both of us about the problems she was having with her current boyfriend. Even though I was a teenage boy, I seemed to have inherited that same quality that my mom has that makes people want to tell me their problems.
I was very active in the church youth group, had recently become an usher, and felt I had it "all together". So when mom and I were discussing this lady's problems, I piped up and said, "You know, if she would just pray more, she wouldn't have so many problems." I said it with a real arrogant tone, like she was pathetically stupid to not see such an obvious answer to her problems.
"I don't ever want to hear you talk like that again! Do you understand me?! Don't be trite! People's problems are not that simple!"
My mom had never talked to me in that tone before. I was speechless. I was the baby, my mom thought I was the best thing since sliced bread and got me everything I ever asked for if she was able to. She had never spoken to me in such a harsh, direct tone.
As I got older, I understood the full truth of what my mom was saying. The world is a tough place. Everyone you see around you carries hurts, broken dreams and struggles to understand a world that changes the rules everytime you think you have it figured out. I could tell you some theological reasons for all of this, but it breaks down to God loves us, but we are bound to screw up, and life will suck for all of us from time to time.
When I look at people, or talk to them, I always try to remember that each one is an incredibly complex combination of thoughts, beliefs, and values. What makes people tick inside their hearts and minds is as complex as the strands of DNA that make up their cells. No one is as they appear, and people and their problems are not labeled so easily.
Do I have a point to all this?
Yes I do. Since the election, I have had this aching inside my heart. Every blog I read, every newspaper I pick up, every TV show I watch, is going on and on about how the Red States are all idiots, or how the Blue states don't have a clue. I have heard people say that anyone that voted for Bush must have been a retarded inbred, and how anyone who voted for Kerry is a godless atheist.
It's all arrogant bullshit, both sides.
All Republicans are not theocratic, gun-toting, sister-marrying fascists. All Democrats are not elitist, members of planned parenthood, who want to toss out all of historic Christianity for some form of sloppy one-world religious pluralism. These caricatures, these internal archetypes that we use to describe those "others" we hate are as dangerous and as damaging as any other forms of prejudice this country has experienced. Don't give in to this type of prejudice. There is more common ground between us than we realize.
Thanks for reading,
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine