Saturday, July 05, 2008
The Chinese bank teller in the peony-colored blouse said, "You got beautiful teeths" at the same moment I said, "What a pretty color that is on you!"
She smiled. "I got many pinks, but afraid wear."
"Why?" I asked.
She leaned forward and cupped her hand around her mouth. "Gay peoples," she whispered.
I think she is taking a chance here. How does she know I am not gay? I even wear pink on occasion.
She is waiting for me to respond. It is clear that she will not perform my transaction until I do.
"You're a girl," is what I manage. "It's different."
And I hate myself for a moment.
I find that I carry my soapbox with me less often these days. It isn't up to me to educate others on my convictions because they are prejudices, too. I am prejudiced in favor of certain values like equality for all and deeply believe that I am right, but does that entitle me to inflict my views on others?
In private conversation, yes, I think it does. But on strangers in public places with a line of people behind me, probably not. And it would be pointless as well.
She has her prejudices, too.
I finally understand that I am not responsible for the earth spinning on its axis. For minds and hearts embracing the principles I hold dear. That standing up and being counted does not mean rubbing noses in others' misconceptions, no matter how grievous, like puppies that have peed the carpet.
We all have the right to be stupid in whatever way we choose. But couldn't some of us be a little less flagrant about it?
“Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!”