24 Feb. Luke 13:31-35 Stereotyping
I was surprised by today’s gospel. The Pharisees actually came to warn Jesus. I am so used to conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees that I have come to assume that Pharisees are “the enemy” with few to no redeemable qualities. In short, I have transformed the persons called Pharisees into a stereotype of all that is arrogant and self-serving. Now might be a good time to reflect on stereotyping and the injustice that emerges from our being both afraid of that which we do not know, and unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people and situations.
While stereotyping helps us understand our world in many positive ways, it also leads us to develop some prejudices, many of which we are not even aware. When we find ourselves judging people and groups based upon our prejudices and stereotypes, we begin to treat them differently - we are engaged in discrimination. Some forms of discrimination are obvious. We are all aware of the pressures which were used to discourage minorities from living in various neighborhoods. Women and minorities have experienced discrimination in employment, education, social services, and their presence is missing from high echelon positions in the business world. More subtle forms of discrimination separate “us” from “them” in our theology, in our politics, in the civility of our discourse. Even more subtle forms revolve around all of the ways we choose “those just like us” - from hiring practices to accepting volunteers on our committees.
How can we remember that we are not made God's people by our thinking alike or behaving alike? How can we remember that our response to the unconditional love of God must include that unconditional love that is focused on preserving the minority opinion alongside the majority? How can we love enough to choose to come together over and over again, hang our certainty at the door and argue? How can we love enough to treat each other as colleagues who disagree rather than as adversaries… and argue? How can we love enough to agree to keep coming back to the table, to agree to disagree… and to keep arguing?