“I think fitting in is highly overrated. I’d rather just fit out... Fitting out means being who you are, even when people insist that you have to change. Fitting out means taking up space, not apologizing for yourself, and not agreeing with those who seek to label you with stereotypes.”
I am as guilty as everyone else . . . I have a tendency (when not really thinking about what I am saying) of dropping into generalizations and stereotyping. We all do it without even thinking about it because we are so used to doing it. It is unconscious behavior on our parts—we just do it . . . and we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t speak in generalizations and stereotypes because they are usually wrong . . . and typically not true.
For example: White men can’t jump . . . now I can’t jump and happen to be white, but I know lots of white men who can jump and jump quite high. I just happen to be one of them that can’t jump except to conclusions. Wasn’t the guy who won’t the high jump gold medal in this year’s Olympics white? There is no truth in that statement. Just like saying all blondes are idiots, athletes are “dumb jocks”, Republicans are conservative and Democrats are liberals, and that Muslims are terrorists. None of those statements are true . . . I know some liberal Republicans, conservative Democrats, smart athletes and blondes, and lots of Muslims who are not terrorists but Republicans and Democrats. They are all pretty nice people. And, what is so peculiar about all of this stereotyping and generalizing of people is that we all know exceptions to this false way of thinking and talking . . . but we still continue to do it.
Generalizations and stereotyping saves time and we don’t have to think. M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, wrote in that book that sin is taking the easy way out. If that is the case then generalizations and stereotyping is sinful. If it is sinful, we shouldn’t be doing it . . .
. . . but we do. For example, close your eyes and get a visual picture of a minister. Now think about everything that represents a minister to you. Got that mental picture? Good . . . now let’s talk . . . I am a minister and I am sure that I am not your typical stereotypical minister . . . nope, far from it. See if I fit that “image” of “minister”. I do not wear a suit and tie, except for funerals, weddings, and when I need to impress someone. I don’t tote a big leather Bible around, but now that there are apps for cell phones I do have one loaded on my phone. I have been known to swear on more than one occasion, especially commuting back and forth from home and the university or watching my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers taking a beating. I like rock and roll, but not so much the Gaithers. I like my microbrews. I know the universal sign for “good luck” and have not been afraid to use it while driving. I don’t pray in old English or King James, but prefer to use something closer to Dr. Seuss while addressing God. On and on I could go . . . but you get the idea. Ministers are as different as anyone else and it is not fair to assume that all of us are alike. I shudder at the world that would be!
“Once you label me you negate me.”
Kierkegaard has got it right. God created each and every person as unique and special creations . . . no two human beings are exactly the same . . . we are all different in how we look, think, and act. We are special and we should embrace that specialness and strive to become all that God created us to be. As I see it, and if I am taking the scriptures to heart, if we are all created in the image of God, then we are all little reflections of God that allow us to see God more fully. To lump us together and all us all the same would be to destroy that image of God . . . not to mention that it would be a shame . . . and, sinful.
Being reminded of this behavior or habit of generalizing and stereotyping from the time to time is good. I need it. I think we all do. I think we all need to “fit out” a whole lot more . . . it sure makes the world a much more colorful and exciting place to live. Think about it.