by STEPHANIE BROWN
My girls and I walk into ballet with completely opposite emotions and expectations. They open the doors excited about what lies ahead. I enter with dread, knowing that for the next hour I will be at the mercy of whoever happens to be sitting within a metre radius of me.
Those people will dictate what I have to listen to and the topics of conversation I will be pressured to engage in.
This week was a doozy. Conversation drifted to religion.
I know this is a very politically incorrect topic to write about.
Spirituality is OK. Religion, not so much.
I know it will automatically switch people off or turn them on. Neither response I am too thrilled about, but the conversation has been swimming around in my brain and must be dealt with.
The mother in my radius this week was discussing her reasons for wanting to move out of the area in which we live. Top of her list, the thing she dislikes most about our leafy suburbia, is that everyone is religious; she perceives we live in a bible belt.
She went on to talk about the large percentage of parents and children in her son’s class who were involved with a church. She vented about feeling in the minority, saying that although people didn’t talk to her about their faith, she felt they were ‘preachy’.
All in all, it seemed that there was little evidence of actual problems or encounters, quite simply she didn’t like it, she didn’t like them. People weren’t like her and this made her uncomfortable.
The reactions were mixed. Some nodded politely, and some had confused looks on their faces. Some went as far as to point out that their experience was quite different, but no one directly challenged her, and I believe she would have walked away thinking people were in agreement with her.
I sat there pondering. I couldn’t help but feel I was caught up in a moment that could be somewhat farcical. If she had said she wanted to leave an area because she didn’t like that there were a group of Asian or Middle Eastern people, it would have been met with shock.
If she had said she was miserable because there were so many homosexual people she would have been heatedly challenged. If she had singled out any other group, even any other religious group, I think it would be seen as being narrow minded and intolerant, and she would have been put in her place.
In contrast, it seemed it was socially acceptable to isolate and attach negative stigma to people involved in the Christian faith. In essence, it was stereotyping and placing prejudice on a group of people without knowing or experiencing them as individuals.