The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant has been wondering how you convince someone to become something they already think they are. We had been enjoying our eggs and country ham at Phil’s Diner, the sort of place where the waitress calls you “honey” and appears stricken if your coffee cup does not remain full at all times, when we noticed the Old Men in the back corner chewing over life. Every diner has to have Old Men in the corner chewing over life.
The conversation turned to someone’s nephew living in Somali and trying to convert the masses to Christianity. He said the task had proven difficult given the fact, “half the Somali pirates say they’re already Christian.” The rest shook their heads sadly. Poor heathens. Somali pirates apparently rest easy at night in the knowledge that after committing larceny on the high seas Jesus still wants them for his sunbeam.
The Rant has the reaction of the Old Men on a daily basis. Some Earnest Young Thing extols the virtues of his vegetarian diet before tucking into a piece of salmon. Yeah right. I think that word you are using does not mean what you think it means.1 Some businessman with a fish on his billboards robs you blind so he can tithe more at church. People clamor for smaller government except as it touches upon their entitlements.
Hypocrisy has always existed, but never have people been so convinced of the righteousness of their beliefs while behaving in ways completely counter to them. Calls for a more compassionate and equitable society fall on deaf ears when those listening remain convinced they have reached the height of enlightenment and goodwill. You can’t become a better person when you operate under the delusion you are the best version of you possible.
The Rant doesn’t miss our Calvinist upbringing, but at least we understood that who we were stood in stark contrast to who we could become. How to achieve that transformation has changed, but we still carry the awareness that the distance between what we say we are and what we actually do sometimes stretches out as an endless void.
If you want to be a vegetarian, quit eating fish; if you want to be a spiritually astute person, stop hating those you find it inconvenient to love; if you want to practice equality, don’t carry a host of negative assumptions into your relationships with people that don’t look like you. You have every right to live as a miserable, self-absorbed SOB. Why not stop wasting your time and ours pretending you are something else?