Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Cancel Culture

“Cancel culture” is a curious trend that’s grown attention lately. For some reason, people are suddenly concerned about some rather obscure things: handful of books no one reads (that are still available), something about a toy having multiple parts that has always had multiple parts or some advisory for a puppet show featuring a pig with hots for a frog. I personally love Dr Seuss books. I have had a plate of scrambled eggs with green food coloring and ham and wondered oh the places I will go. I always love the Muppets. The curious thing about these examples is that each of them are still quite available.

So, I wonder why the concern about being cancelled is raised with these when our society has plenty of other examples of “cancel culture.”  For centuries, entire groups of people were denied and cancelled from voting, fair pay, any sort of rights, or even basic humanity through the chains of slavery and segregation. Why? This cancelling was done all in order to preserve traditions over sharing liberties or done to reinforce a sanitized notion of the “American way of life” that freely enjoyed cancelling entire groups of people. Yes this happened and still happens.

How convenient it must be to forget the images and words (and not to mention lynching, maiming and other cruel weapons) have been used with full and intentional callousness to rob and degrade entire groups of God’s children of respect and dignity for skin color, gender, heritage, queerness or religious beliefs. When jobs are cancelled because people didn’t “play ball” and submit to inappropriate advances, I suppose they should just keep their mouths shut. When sports players make a public display against centuries of social injustice, it feels easy to cancel their concerns because they challenged the system that enables poor behavior. When indigenous tribes remind us how much our government lied and stole from them while belittling their heritage with ease, I suppose they too ought to just cancel their concerns and keep their mouths shut. When a person won’t get hired because who they love or they express religious beliefs with their attire, they should cancel religious expressions while keeping their mouths shut too. 

This reveals an underlying motivation to suppress legitimate historical grievances as unworthy. Perhaps instead of cancelling people, listen to their stories, and march with people today to call for long-overdue justice against centuries of violence and intimidation that preserves the cancelling of basic dignity.

When we are truly concerned about cancelling of culture, we no longer cancel peoples’ legit cry for equitable justice, legit indigenous heritage or their claim to promised lands, or even legit celebration of one’s basic humanity. Then, we no longer cancel authentic concerns due to some irritated convenience or tradition - like “that is the way it always has been” when that way has always perpetuated the wrong.  Instead, find time to listen to peoples’ concerns with honesty and humility, learn about your neighbors and acknowledge their rights (as well as yours) to be heard. Further, get out of echo chambers and work toward the justice the One gifts to all of us. Perhaps, this ought to remind us Christians of what Christ would do because that is what Christ did.

When you do that, you might understand and feel the frustration of generations, and then, the concern for cancelled culture might feel more genuine. 

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