Story of the Day for Thursday July 28, 2011
Eat the Fat Ones First
Accept each other just as Christ accepted you.
A fitness club in San Francisco ran a billboard ad. An alien’s bug-eyed face loomed in the foreground – with another alien silhouetted behind it. The ad said,
WHEN THEY COME THEY’LL EAT THE FAT ONES FIRST.
A member of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance found the ad hilarious – until the more sober members of the association informed her she should be offended.
We live in a culture that has lost the ability to enjoy our differences. The State University of New York at Albany decided to hold a picnic to honor the first black major league baseball player, Jackie Robinson. But some students objected – insisting the word, “picnic,” was racist. A “picnic,” they claimed, originated when black men were lynched for entertainment.
An English professor proved that the word “picnic” originated in the late 1600s from the French word, piquenique. The term designated a social gathering in which everyone contributed to the meal. Over time, it meant any outdoor meal.
Yet, despite the convincing explanation, some were still offended.
So, in deference to those who considered a picnic insulting, the gathering was promoted as simply an “outing.”
Oh boy. Now others protested that the university could not have an “outing” to honor Jackie Robinson, because that would be insensitive term to the gay community.
In the end, the university capitulated to those offended, and advertised the event, but refused to use any noun to describe the outdoor lunch they planned to honor Jackie Robinson.
Is it possible to celebrate and enjoy our distinctive differences as people without hurting and offending others by pointing out those differences?
I don’t know.
But I do know that status-conscious societies, like ours, have latched onto people’s differences to cruelly mock and stereotype people. Whenever we treat any race or class of people as lazy, deceptive – or any undesirable trait – humor becomes ridicule.
The traits we admire or sneer at change with the years. A generation ago, plumpness was admired (because only wealthy people could afford to indulge in rich foods) and a deep tan was disdained (because only poor laborers had to work outside). Women used to want to dye their hair blond, because it suggested both youth and beauty. Now, with the advent of “blond jokes,” it increasingly brands you as a ditz.
Mocking those who are different from us is a cheap way to attempt to bolster our own sense of worth. God wants us to learn to accept each other – just as Christ has accepted us.
The sooner we learn to accept others for who they are, the sooner we will be able to laugh and enjoy our differences. And I hope we learn to do this quickly, so I don’t have to save my best jokes for the nursing home.